A new virus of animal origin, baptized Langya, has infected dozens of people in China, according to scientists who rule out the risk of human-to-human transmission for the time being.
Langya henipavirus (LayV) causes symptoms such as fever, tiredness, cough, nausea, and headache.
Scientists think that the shrew, a small mammal with a pointed snout, could be the animal that transmitted the virus to humans.
According to a report published in early August by the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), a leading American medical journal, 35 people have been infected in China.
The patients, mostly farmers, had neither "close contact" nor "common exposure" to a pathogen, according to the study, implying a "sporadic" infection in humans.
Some developed blood cell abnormalities. Others experienced impaired liver and kidney function, according to the report.
Langya was first detected in 2018 but was formally identified only recently.
Scientists consider it premature to rule on the possibility of transmission of the virus from person to person, given the small number of cases.
According to researchers from China, Singapore and Australia who contributed to the report, more research is needed to better understand the illnesses associated with the virus.
No serious or fatal cases of Langya have been reported so far, virologist Linfa Wang of Singapore's Duke-NUS Medical School, one of the report's authors, told the Global Times.