A new virus associated with a “fever-causing human illness” has been discovered in China that scientists believe was passed onto humans from the humble shrew. Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control reported 35 human infections of the Langya Henipavirus, known as “Langya,” and though no one has died, 26 patients developed symptoms including fever, fatigue, a cough, loss of appetite, muscle pain, nausea, headache and vomiting, according to a report in the Taipei Times. A decrease in white blood cells, low platelet count, liver failure, and kidney failure were also noted among patients. The Times, citing a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Friday, titled “A Zoonotic Henipavirus in Febrile Patients in China,” noted the virus had so far been reported in China’s Shandong and Henan provinces. CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang told the Times that human-to-human transmission of the virus has not been reported and human infections may be “sporadic.” The shrew became the lead suspect after test results from 25 wild animal species suggested that the mole-like mammal could be “a natural reservoir of the Langya henipavirus” after the discovery of the virus in 27 percent of the shrew subjects. There is no vaccine available for the virus and according to the World Health Organization, a previous strain of the virus, the Nipah virus, carried with it a fatality rate estimated at 40 percent to 75 percent.
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