Hantavirus Explained: No Need to Worry Say Experts
Rumours of a “new” virus called Hantavirus has been spreading on social media.
China’s Global Times tweeted about a man in China’s Yunan Province dying from the virus on Monday, 23 March.
Does the Hantavirus Exist? Yes, But Don’t Panic
Firstly, what is the hantavirus? According to the Centers of Disease Prevention and Control, hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents and they cause varied symptoms in people. They can cause a rare but deadly disease called Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS).
This is not a new virus, and has been in circulation for quite some time. CDC reports two outbreaks in 2012 and 2017 in the US. Mumbai reported on in 2016.
The novel coronavirus too, is from the family of coronaviruses which are respiratory ailments with other strains manifesting in diseases like SARS or the common cold.
Most importantly, hantavirus is not airborne and can only spread via contact with the urine, faeces, or saliva of infected rodents and, to a lesser extent, from the bite from an infected host.
FIT spoke to Dr Suranjeet Chatterjee, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, at Apollo Hospital in Delhi, who said,
Dr Sumit Ray, critical care specialist at Artemis adds, “it is a virus, which causes severe disease, but, doesn't spread too far and usually not too rapidly. Human to human transmission is rare.”
He added that the main issue is of viruses that can spread from human to human transmission, like the coronavirus.
“There is no need to panic about the hantavirus as yet. There are more pressing issues to think of,” says Dr Chatterjee referring to COVID-19, social distancing and hand hygiene.
What are the Symptoms of Hanta Virus?
Now while rare, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is an infectious disease with flu-like symptoms that can progress to severe, life-threatening breathing problems, explains Mayo Clinic.
The two major respiratory infections from this are called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).
HPS is found in North and South America, while HFRS is found in China, Russia and occaisnnay Westeern Europe.
People with HPS will have symptoms of:
Severe muscle aches
Difficulty breathing after sometime
Often: headaches, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach pain.
Usually, people do not have a runny nose, sore throat, or a rash, says CDC.
Dr Ray adds that the above symptoms are common for the Americas, whereas in other countries, HFRS is more common.
The symptoms for these, he says, includes, “Mostly fever body aches muscle aches, kidney dysfunction, bleeding etc.”
Dr Chatterjee says the way to avoid this to keep clean surroundings and stay away from rat-infested areas.
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