Langya virus shows how easily viruses can travel unnoticed from animals to humans

Hong Kong (IANS) More surveillance is needed of a new virus detected in dozens of people in eastern China that may not cause the next pandemic but suggests just how easily viruses can travel unnoticed from animals to humans, scientists say, a report said.

The virus, dubbed Langya henipavirus, infected nearly three dozen farmers and other residents, according to a team of scientists who believe it may have spread directly or indirectly to people from shrews — small mole-like mammals found in a wide variety of habitats, the CNN reported.

The pathogen did not cause any reported deaths, but was detected in 35 unrelated fever patients in hospitals in Shandong and Henan provinces between 2018 and 2021, the scientists said — a finding in tune with longstanding warnings from scientists that animal viruses are regularly spilling undetected into people around the world.

“We are hugely underestimating the number of these zoonotic cases in the world, and this (Langya virus) is just the tip of the iceberg,” said emerging virus expert Leo Poon, a professor at the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health, who was not involved in the latest study, CNN reported.

The first scientific research on the virus, published as a correspondence from a team of Chinese and international researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine last week, received global attention due to heightened concern over disease outbreaks. Hundreds of thousands of new Covid-19 cases are still being reported worldwide each day, nearly three years since the novel coronavirus behind the pandemic was first detected in China, CNN reported.

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