Coronavirus – Disease, Medical Sciences Involved & Preventive Measures

What is Langya Virus?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Langya virus

Mains level : Zoonotic Diseases

A new virus, Langya henipavirus, is suspected to have caused infections in 35 people in China’s Shandong and Henan provinces over roughly a two-year period to 2021.

Langya Virus

  • It’s related to Hendra and Nipah viruses, which cause disease in humans.
  • However, there’s much we don’t know about the new virus – known as LayV for short – including whether it spreads from human to human.

How sick are people getting?

  • Symptoms reported appeared to be mostly mild – fever, fatigue, cough, loss of appetite, muscle aches, nausea and headache – although we don’t know how long the patients were unwell.
  • A smaller proportion had potentially more serious complications, including pneumonia, and abnormalities in liver and kidney function.
  • However, the severity of these abnormalities, the need for hospitalization, and whether any cases were fatal were not reported.

Where did this virus come from?

  • The authors also investigated whether domestic or wild animals may have been the source of the virus.
  • Although they found a small number of goats and dogs that may have been infected with the virus in the past, there was more direct evidence a significant proportion of wild shrews were harbouring the virus.
  • This suggests humans may have caught the virus from wild shrews.

Does this virus actually cause this disease?

  • The researchers used a modern technique known as metagenomic analysis to find this new virus.
  • Researchers sequence all genetic material then discard the “known” sequences (for example, human DNA) to look for “unknown” sequences that might represent a new virus.
  • This raises the question about how scientists can tell whether a particular virus causes the disease.
  • Researchers used “Koch’s Postulates” to determine whether a particular micro-organism causes disease:
  1. it must be found in people with the disease and not in well people
  2. it must be able to be isolated from people with the disease
  3. the isolate from people with the disease must cause the disease if given to a healthy person (or animal)
  4. it must be able to be re-isolated from the healthy person after they become ill.

What can we learn from related viruses?

  • This new virus appears to be a close cousin of two other viruses that are significant in humans: Nipah virus and Hendra virus.
  • This family of viruses was the inspiration for the fictional MEV-1 virus in the film Contagion.
  • Hendra virus was first reported in Queensland in 1994, when it caused the deaths of 14 horses and the trainer Vic Rail.
  • Nipah virus is more significant globally, with outbreaks frequently reported in Bangladesh.

What lies ahead?

  • Little is known about this new virus, and the currently reported cases are likely to be the tip of the iceberg.
  • At this stage, there is no indication the virus can spread from human to human.
  • Further work is required to determine how severe the infection can be, how it spreads, and how widespread it might be in China and the region.

 

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