New Virus Breakout Raises Question of Bioterrorism

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Update: SFTSV and Hantavirus are endemic in Shandong and Henan provinces in recent years and the article has been updated to reflect this.

Recently, the discovery of “Langya virus” in Shandong and Henan provinces of China has quickly attracted the attention of medical experts around the world. The virus is a type of zoonotic henipavirus and 35 people have been identified to be infected with this Langya virus since 2019 in these two provinces in China.

Notably, this virus is related to the Mojiang virus—found in the infamous Mojian Caves where the bat-borne coronavirus most similar to the SARS-CoV-2 was discovered.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology has become very interested in henipaviruses as of late, taking great pains to obtain and reconstruct the Nipah virus, which is not even a threat in China.

What does this all mean, and what is going on inside of China’s military labs?

What Is the ‘Langya Virus’? What Are Its Symptoms?

Langya virus is part of the henipavirus family. Other henipaviruses include the Nipah virus, which has received extensive attention and is known for its high mortality rate, and the Hendra virus and Mojiang virus.

Henipavirus is a genus of negative-stranded RNA viruses with a lipid membrane on their surface. This membrane is easily damaged in a dry environment, so henipaviruses are not primarily transmitted through the respiratory tract, but through direct contact with infected people or animals or contact with their feces.

According to an article published on August 4, 2022 in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the Langya virus has caused at least 35 infections in Henan and Shandong, China, and the report did not mention any related death case. Among all the patients, 26 people were infected with the Langya virus only, and nine others were infected with other pathogens at the same time.

All 26 patients with the Langya virus infection have experienced fever. Their probability of suffering from anorexia, coughing, weakness, muscle pain and leukopenia are as large as 50 percent. In addition, liver function impairment, thrombocytopenia, and headaches are also common symptoms of the Langya viral infection.

By Xiaoxu Sean Lin and HEALTH 1+1

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