Even as the coronavirus outbreak takes the world by storm, a number of other diseases are also rearing their ugly heads. Cases of swine flu and bird flu have already been reported in India and other countries. Now, a man from China has tested positive for hantavirus. The man from Yunnan Province died while on his way back to Shandong Province for work on a bus on 23 March 2020. The 32 other people on the bus were also tested for the virus.
 
What exactly is the hantavirus?
  1. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hantaviruses are a family of viruses which are spread mainly by rodents and can cause various diseases in people.
  2. It can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) and haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).
  3. The disease is not airborne and can only spread to people if they come in contact with urine, feces, and saliva of rodents and less frequently by a bite from an infected host.
Symptoms of hantavirus
  1. Early symptoms of HPS include fatigue, fever, and muscle aches, along with headaches, dizziness, chills and abdominal problems
  2. If left untreated, it can lead to coughing and shortness of breath and can be fatal, with a mortality rate of 38 percent, according to CDC.
  3. While the initial symptoms of HFRS too remain the same, it can cause low blood pressure, acute shock, vascular leakage, and acute kidney failure.
  4. HPS can't be passed on from person to person, while HFRS transmission between people is extremely rare.
  5. As per the CDC, rodent population control is the primary strategy for preventing hantavirus infections.
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)
  1. Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease in humans caused by infection with hantaviruses.
  2. Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry hantaviruses is at risk of HPS. Rodent infestation in and around the home remains the primary risk for hantavirus exposure. Even healthy individuals are at risk for HPS infection if exposed to the virus.
  3. To date, no cases of HPS have been reported in the United States in which the virus was transmitted from one person to another. 
  4. In fact, in a study of health care workers who were exposed to either patients or specimens infected with related types of hantaviruses (which cause a different disease in humans), none of the workers showed evidence of infection or illness.
  5. In Chile and Argentina, rare cases of person-to-person transmission have occurred among close contacts of a person who was ill with a type of hantavirus called Andes virus.