What is Hantavirus? Know all about its symptoms, treatments, preventive measures and mode of transmission here
After coronavirus or COVID-19, has turned pandemic globally, a virus named hantavirus has emerged. However, it is an old virus and has been infecting human beings for decades. According to the World Health Organisation, it is zoonotic and can spread from animals to humans, from rodents. The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the hantavirus is not native or restricted to China. There have been outbreaks in both north and south America and Korea, as per the CDC.
According to the Global Times, a person from Yunnan Province died while on his way back to Shandong Province for work on a chartered bus on Monday. He was tested positive for hantavirus. Other 32 people on the bus were tested. This created a panic situation when the world is already dealing with a fast-moving deadly coronavirus. The U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) states that currently, the hantavirus genus includes more than 21 species.
What is Hantavirus?
As per the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hantavirus is a family of viruses which spread mainly by rodents and can cause varied diseases in people. is a respiratory disease that can be fatal in some cases. The new virus can cause pulmonary syndrome (HPS) and haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).
Hantavirus: Mode of Transmission
Hantavirus is not airborne and can only be transmitted to people if they come in contact with urine, droppings, faeces or saliva of infected rodents- rats and mice. It can also be transmitted by a bite from an infected host. However, it must be noted that hantavirus cannot be transmitted from one person to another and can only be transmitted if a person touches his eyes, nose or mouth after touching the rodent droppings, urine.
Hantavirus: Initial and Late Symptoms
Flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle ache, abdominal pain, dizziness, chills and abdominal problems are early symptoms of hantavirus while late symptoms include lungs filled with fluid and shortness of breath.
As per the MayoClinic, the hantavirus advances through two distinct stages. The initial stage is characterised by flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, headaches, muscle aches, etc. and therefore it is difficult to distinguish from influenza, pneumonia or other viral conditions.
But after four to 10 days, hantavirus is characterised by more serious signs and symptoms such as a cough that produces secretions, shortness of breath, fluid accumulation within the lungs, low blood pressure, and reduced heart efficiency.
Hantavirus: Preventive Measures
According to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hantavirus infections can be prevented by controlling the rodent population. CDC suggests to seal up holes and gaps, if any, in your home or garage and place traps in and around your home to decrease rodent infestation.
There is no specific treatment, cure, or vaccine for hantavirus infection. However, infected individuals if recognized at an early stage and receive medical care in an intensive care unit, they may do better, as per the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Hantavirus in India
In the year 2016, a 12-year-old died in Mumbai and the death was linked to the hantavirus infection. The 12-year-old died due to the lung infection caused by viruses in the saliva, urine, and droppings of rodents.
It must be noted that many people who became ill with hantavirus reported that they had not seen rodents or rodent droppings at all. Therefore, if you live in an area where the carrier rodents are known to live, try to keep your home, vacation place, workplace, or campsite clean.