Langya virus: What the new disease detected in China means for Australia

Experts are urging Aussies to stay vigilant, but say it's a "very different" virus to Covid-19. Watch to find out why.

Video transcript

- Australians are being warned to stay vigilant after the identification of a new virus in China, with experts saying it's a very different virus to COVID-19. An article recently published in the "New England Journal of Medicine" revealed that there had been 35 cases of Langya Henipavirus known as Langya or LayV in the Shandong and Henan provinces.

The cases were identified between 2018 and 2021. And the virus has only been formally identified this week. It's believed the virus is passed to humans by shrews. However, there's no evidence of human to human transmission. None of the 35 patients have died. A professor from the Australian National University said that while there is no evidence yet to suggest that Langya is jumping from human to human, there is still reason to remain vigilant, with the reason being that the virus is a Henipavirus, which comes from the same family as Hendra and Nipah, both of which have caused deaths in humans.

Dr. Nick Fountain-Jones from the School of Natural Sciences at the University of Tasmania said that just because we're still stuck in the COVID-19 pandemic, it does not mean another isn't around the corner. Infectious disease expert Professor Paul Griffin said one positive about the news of the Langya virus shows how effectively the information is being shared.

New viruses emerging is nothing new. Though Professor Griffin did have some ideas on why it feels as though there's a new illness threatening humans every other month. He said part of it is likely due to how we share information and our heightened awareness thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Another part of it is our ability to detect viruses thanks to advancements in technology.

He also added that the emergence rate of new viruses could be slightly quicker than before. In fact, as such as climate change, closer proximity to animals and deforestation could be related to this. Professor Griffin believes our ability to identify viruses quickly and get the information out in a timely fashion is why we're seeing more news about emerging viruses.