Dozens of cases of newly identified virus detected in China & More New Zealand News

The newly identified virus is being tracked by researchers after dozens of cases have appeared in China.

The novel Langya henipavirus (LayV) which causes fever, fatigue, coughing, loss of appetite and muscle aches, was first found in the Shandong and Henan provinces in 2018 but was only formally identified last week, the Guardian reports.

So far 35 cases have been detected with the majority of infected people being farm and factory workers.

Scientists believe LayV is likely transmitted from animals to humans but it is still unclear if the virus can be transmitted between people.

“Contact tracing of nine patients with 15 close-contact family members revealed no close-contact LayV transmission, but our sample size was too small to determine the status of human-to-human transmission,” said Professor Wang Linfa, the co-author of the paper identifying the virus when speaking to Chinese state media.

Linfa said the virus has “not been fatal or serious” and that there is “no need for panic”.

The researchers theorise that the virus mainly comes from shrews, a small mouse-like mammal.

After sequencing the virus, scientists determined that LayV was a henipavirus, a category of Zoonotic RNA virus.

Zoonotic viruses are diseases that spread from non-human animals to humans. Viruses in this category include Hendra and Nipah viruses.

The Taiwan Centre for Disease Control will undertake genome sequencing and other surveillance methods to track the virus.

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