Era of viruses
The past few years have been quite concerning for the humans and animals alike as various new breed of viruses have started to affect out health and overall well being. Firstly, it was the deadly coronavirus that created a scare and lakhs of people across the globe fell victim to the virus which still is proving a global health threat even now.
Though the coronavirus did not affect the animals but some cases were reported from various countries where the animals too had to bear the pain of fighting this deadly virus.
Even though no firm treatment has come to the fore to deal with the coronavirus but as of now new viruses are making their presence felt which is affecting both animals and humans alike. A new virus, Langya henipavirus, is suspected to have caused infections in 35 people in China’s Shandong and Henan provinces. The virus is 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.
Interestingly, researchers in China first detected this new virus as part of routine surveillance in people with a fever who had reported recent contact with animals. Once the virus was identified, the researchers looked for the virus in other people.
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 hospitalisation, and whether any cases were fatal were not reported.
The researchers 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 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 their trainer. More recently, seven human cases of Hendra virus have been reported in Australia (mostly veterinarians working with sick horses), including four deaths.
Nipah virus is more significant globally, with outbreaks frequently reported in Bangladesh.
The severity of infection can range from very mild to fatal encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). The first outbreak in Malaysia and Singapore was reported in people who had close contact with pigs. However, it is thought more recent outbreaks have been due to food contaminated with the urine or saliva of infected bats.
Even in Jammu and Kashmir a rare outbreak of skin disease among dairy animals from various districts of the Jammu division has been diagnosed.
Experts have claimed that the major symptoms of the disease include multiple nodules all over the body, swelling of limbs and lymph nodes, fever, lameness, decreased milk production, discharges from the eyes and nose, edema, pneumonia, and abortion in pregnant animals. Though the spread of infection to humans has not been reported but it seems that the world is headed for some serious health issues as various forms of viruses have started to get active over the past few years.
All these development suggest that we need to take extra precautions and stress on adopting a healthy lifestyle where our immunity system is so robust that we can fight the viruses on our own and not let them create havoc as the coronavirus did.