At the time when the world is trying to find a cure for the deadly pandemic novel coronavirus, a report in Global times stating that a man from China’s Yunnan province died from Hantavirus while he was on bus to the Shandong province, has created a stir all over social media and sent people in a panic mode. But before getting scared or jumping to any conclusions, it is important to understand about the virus, causes and its symptoms. Also Read - Hantavirus Memes: Twitterati Freak Out Thinking This is The Next Deadly Thing After Coronavirus
What is Hantavirus?
The Centre for Disease Control states that the virus mainly spreads from rodents. Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is a respiratory disease caused by infection with hantaviruses and can be fatal in only some cases in humans. Also Read - Breaking News: After Coronavirus, Hantavirus Killed a Person in China; Here is All You Need to Know About This Pathogen
The CDC website reads, “Hantaviruses in the Americas are known as “New World” hantaviruses and may cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Other hantaviruses, known as “Old World” hantaviruses, are found mostly in Europe and Asia and may cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).” Also Read - Hantavirus Creates Panic Amongst Netizens After One Person Dies in China, Know All About This Virus
Contraction of Hantavirus:
The virus is usually spread by rodents’ urine, faeces, saliva as the virus usually infects them. The virus is not airborne, but can be transmitted from one person to another if someone touches their eyes, nose or mouth after touching rodents’ dropping, urine or nesting materials.
Signs and Symptoms of Hantavirus:
Early symptoms include muscle ache in hips, thighs, back, and shoulder, fever, and fatigue. Other signs including vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea may also follow. The incubation period of hantavirus is believed to be between 1 and 8 days post exposure to the urine, droppings, or saliva of an infected rodent.
If left untreated for around 10 days, late HPS symptoms can occur. These may include coughing and shortness of breath. Sadly, this disease is fatal and therefore you must take enough precautions to stay away from the infection.
Diagnosis And Treatment of Hantavirus Infection:
It is a bit difficult to diagnose the disease cause by Hantavirus as the early signs and symptoms are confusing and mimic those of other common health ailments. It can easily get confused with influenza. But, if a patient is experiencing shortness of breath along with other symptoms and has a history of rodent exposure, doctors can easily suspect Hantavirus infection and can diagnose the disease.
Hantavirus cases in India:
There have been several cases of Hantavirus in India in the past. In 2008, 28 people from the Irula community in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district reported contracting the virus. In 2016, a 12-year-old boy in Mumbai died of the disease. It was reported that he was bleeding from the lungs.
First Outbreak of Hantavirus:
The very first outbreak of Hantavirus dates back in 1993 in southwestern United States in provinces including Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.
In May 1993, a young man hailing from Navajo, suffering from shortness of breath was rushed to a hospital and died very rapidly. Medical personnel discovered that man’s fiance had died a few days before and had shown similar symptoms. Similar cases also came out in Canada, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay.
It should be noted that 15-20 per cent deer mice are infected with Hantavirus but it is rare for humans to contract the disease because virus dies shortly after coming in contact with sunlight.