All You Need To Know About Hantavirus- Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry
Even as the coronavirus pandemic keeps spreading, several other diseases are also rearing their ugly heads. Many cases of swine flu and bird flu have been reported in our country and other countries also. Recently, China has reported a death due to a new virus called Hantavirus.
What is the Case?
On March 22 a man from China’s Yunnan province tested positive for the virus and died on his way back to Shandong Province. Apart from him, another 32 people also tested positive according to the Global Times Report.
The news caused much consternation online, and Global Time’s original tweet has been shared thousands of times. Soon this virus started making it to the top twitter trends and a lot of misinformation is circulating.
But is it something we need to be worried about? Here are the facts:
Let’s start with what exactly is the Hantavirus and is it as deadly as coronavirus?
First, know that Hantaviruses are not new and have been around for a while. For one, this virus is transmitted to another person when he breathes in infected rodents’ droppings, saliva or urine.
What is Hantavirus?
The Centre for Disease Control says that the Hantavirus is spread mainly from rodents. It goes on to say that infection with any of the hantavirus can cause hantavirus disease in people. The hantaviruses are a family of viruses that spreads in rodents and to humans from rodents.
It inhales and reaches the lungs where it wreaks havoc. It starts to invade tiny blood vessels known as capillaries, eventually causing them to leak. The lungs then flood with fluid that can trigger any of the respiratory issues related to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
Also, Hantavirus is not native or restricted to China. There have been outbreaks in the north as well as South America and Korea.
The Hantavirus named after the Hanta River areas in South Korea where an outbreak was observed first time in the 70s have been reported on all continents except Australia.
Over 150,000 cases are believed to occur annually on the global level. It is according to the guidance of the UK government that it has not been updated in nearly 12 years. It provides an idea of the lack of threat we are dealing with.
What are the symptoms of HPS?
Early Hanta signs and symptoms start about one to five weeks after the person contacts hantavirus related to rodent urine, feces, or saliva. The early symptoms of this virus include flu-like, last about four to 10 days, and include:
Fever, and muscle aches, especially large muscles in the legs, back, and hips
Almost all people infected develop these symptoms. Other symptoms of HPS include:
Every symptom can cause diagnostic confusion.
Late symptoms of Hantavirus occur about for 10 days after the early symptoms include:
Chest pain, and
Shortness of breath that can be become severe
Medical experts say that around 15-20 percent of deer mice are infected with Hantavirus, but this is rare for humans to contract the diseases, mainly because the virus dies shortly after contact with sunlight, and it cannot spread from one person to another.
Each Hantavirus serotype holds a different rodent host species and is spread to people through an aerosolized virus, which is shed in urine, feces, and saliva, and less quickly by a bite from an infected host.
The Mayo Clinic states that the treatment for Hantavirus is limited but early prognosis and hospitalization enhance changes.
Do we need to be worried?
Hantavirus is not likely to be the next global pandemic. It has not been recorded for years and is not a very new phenomenon; a single human death from the virus does not cause concern, and hard constitutes an outbreak.
How can you avoid Hantavirus?
If you want to take some safety measures while practicing social distancing and washing your hands to avoid Covid-19, there are steps you can take to avoid contracting hantavirus.
Simple hygiene precautions like washing your hands after handling rats or their bedding and cage need to be applied.
The most effective method to prevent, tackle of rodent’s issues, or wear respirators.
In a nutshell, although the symptoms of the hantavirus are like that of coronavirus, it is mainly transmitted from rodents to humans and there is little evidence to prove that it can be transmitted by humans to humans just like coronavirus.