While the world is still grappling with the havoc wreaked by the highly infectious novel coronavirus, another virus seems to be rearing its ugly head in China. Yes, a man in the Yunnan province in Southwest China was tested positive for hantavirus on Monday. According to a tweet by China’s Global Times, the man died on his way back to Shandong Province for work on a chartered bus. The other 32 people on the bus are also being tested.
The death of the infected death has caused a wave of panic amongst the netizens as people are worried if they need to brace themselves for another killer virus. The news about hantavirus comes at a time when scientists and medical experts worldwide are already racing against time to find a cure for pandemic COVID-19.
For the uninitiated, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which was detected in December 2019 in Wuhan, China has claimed 16,587 lives and infected 3,83,908 people worldwide.
What exactly is hantavirus?
As per the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents and can cause varied disease syndromes in people worldwide. Infection with any hantavirus can produce hantavirus disease in people. It may cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).”
This virus is known as the “New World” hantaviruses in America and those known as “Old World” hantaviruses are found mostly in Europe and Asia. Since there are different type of hantaviruses, each hantavirus serotype has a specific rodent host species.
How is it different from the coronavirus and how does hantavirus spread?
Unlike coronavirus, this disease does not spread from one person to another but it can be contracted if someone touches their eyes, nose or mouth after touching rodent droppings, urine, or nesting materials.
Hence, humans who contract the hantavirus usually come into contact with rodents that carry the virus. As per the CDC, rodent infestation in and around the home remains the primary risk for hantavirus exposure.
This virus also spreads when virus-containing particles are stirred in the air and the infection occurs if you breathe in the virus particles present in the air. This is why it is crucial to avoid dusting, brooming and vacuuming a rodent-infested area.
What are the signs and symptoms of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) and Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome (HFRS)?
Due to a small number of reported cases of HPS, the incubation period of the virus isn’t correctly known yet.
Some of the earliest symptoms of HPS (Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome) include:
7. Stomach problems
Late symptoms of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)
Around 4 to 10 days after the initial symptoms of HPS, the late symptoms of HPS appear. Some of them are:
1.Shortness of breath
2. Lungs filled with fluid
Earliest symptoms of HFRS (Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome)
On the other hand, the symptoms of HFRS begin suddenly and include intense headaches, back and abdominal pain, fever, nausea, chills, flushing of the face, redness of eyes, inflammation or a rash.
Late symptoms of HFRS (Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome)
Some of the late symptoms of HFRS:
1.Low blood pressure
2. Acute shock
3. Vascular leakage
4. Acute kidney failure
As per the CDC, the severity of the disease varies depending upon the virus causing the infection.
(With inputs from timesofindia)