Hantavirus Creates Unnecessary Panic and Fear Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Hantavirus Creates Unnecessary Panic and Fear Amid COVID-19 Outbreak 

Last updated on August 28th, 2020

As the world is still trying to fight the coronavirus pandemic, with no vaccine available after almost four months of the outbreak, a new report from China this week claimed the death a man due to hantavirus.

A man from China’s Yunnan province died while travelling to the Shandong province on a bus. 32 other passengers have also been tested for hantavirus.

Hantavirus case comes at a time when more than 532,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus globally. Just one case of hantavirus has sparked fear and panic amongst people.

According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), hantavirus is spread from rodents. “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),” the CDC says.

Rodents carry hantavirus in their saliva, urine and faeces. Fever, muscle aches or headaches, fatigue, dizziness, chills and abdominal problems are the most common symptoms of the disease. The virus manifests in one of two ways. The first is hemorrhagic fever with renal failure and the other is hemorrhagic fever with lung and cardiac involvement, which is life-threatening.

According to the CDC, if hantavirus is not treated, it can cause severe coughing and shortness of breath with a mortality rate of 38 percent.

Hantaviruses were initially discovered in May 1993 in the United States. They are about a hundredth the size of a bacteria and belong to the order called Bunyavirales. They are also an RNA virus just like SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus). About 150 nanometers in diameter, hantavirus virions attach themselves to cell receptors and then get absorbed into the cell.

The CDC has suggested minimal possibility of the disease spreading from one human to another. The medical fraternity believes that hantavirus does not pose such a big threat as the coronavirus.

The incubation period for hantavirus is comparatively less than that of the coronavirus. While the incubation for coronavirus is two weeks, hantavirus’ incubation lasts only 3-5 days, making it less likely to spread and causing a pandemic.

However, doctors suggest precautions should still be taken, considering the coronavirus death toll has already passed the 24,093 mark worldwide. Farmers are prone to contracting the disease especially during the harvest season. It is crucial that they maintain proper hygiene and do not come in contact with live or dead rodents.

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