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Another animal to human virus documented by China

By Sally Heathcote

Researchers in China have documented another new virus called Langya henipavirus, or LayV for short.

It is suspected to have caused 35 infections in humans over a two-year period and was identified as part of a routine surveillance of people with a fever who had reported recent contact with animals.

Researchers looking at LayV in China have had an extremely small sample to examine.

Their conclusions so far are that shrews are the main reservoir of the virus, although there were some traces in other animals, including wild dogs and goats.

Most importantly, researchers found no evidence of close contact between the people infected with the virus.

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This suggests that the virus does not pass from person-to-person like coronavirus, but from animal to person and is therefore unlikely to become a pandemic.

At this early stage, very little more is known about the virus other than it appears to be related to the hendra and nipah viruses.

Both of those are known to cause disease in humans, although only nipah is spread from human-to-human.

The hendra virus which is harboured and spread by fruit bats was first reported in Queensland in 1994 when it killed a number of horses and racehorse trainer Vic Rail.

There have been further outbreaks in Queensland and northern NSW since and seven human cases, mostly of veterinarians working with sick horses.

Horses may be infected after exposure to virus in the urine of infected flying foxes and it is spread to humans after exposure to body fluids and tissues or excretions of horses infected with Hendra virus.

To date, no human-to-human transmission has been documented.

The nipah virus occurs much more frequently globally, especially in Bangladesh, Malaysia and Singapore.

The first outbreaks were associated with close contact with pigs but more recent cases have been due to food contaminated with the urine or saliva of infected bats.

Nipah is known to be transmitted from person-to-person, mostly household contacts.

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