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CHINA: Potentially fatal new virus passed to humans from shrews discovered

CHINA has discovered a potentially fatal new virus that is believed to have been passed to humans by shrews, according to reports.

The Langya Henipavirus, known as “Langya,” has already infected 35 people, although no one has died or suffered a serious illness, says Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control as per a report in The Taipei Times.

The outlet also noted that the virus has so far been found in China’s Shandong and Henan provinces, and human-to-human transmission has not yet been reported.

Twenty-six of the patients have reportedly been hit by flu-like symptoms, including fever, tiredness, cough, headache, and vomiting.

The new virus is in the Henipavirus family, which has two previously identified viruses, the Hendra virus and Nipah virus. There is no vaccine and, in severe cases, it can have a fatality rate of up to 75 per cent, according to the World Health Organisation.

The development of the new henipavirus has also appeared in a study titled “A Zoonotic Henipavirus in Febrile Patients in China” which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week.

“There was no close contact or common exposure history among the patients, which suggests that the infection in the human population may be sporadic,” the study stated.

The study found that of 25 species of wild small animals tested, the virus was predominantly found in shrews (27 per cent) and stated it was “a finding that suggests that the shrew may be a natural reservoir of LayV.”

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