In a recent case, a man from China died after he was tested positive of Hantavirus leading to some panic among citizens of the world who are still reeling from the Wuhan coronavirus.
Now before we panic, it’s important to understand that the Hantavirus which causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
As per the CDC, “Hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents and can cause varied disease syndromes in people worldwide. Each hantavirus serotype has a specific rodent host species and is spread to people via an aerosolized virus that is shed in urine, faeces, and saliva, and less frequently by a bite from an infected host. The most important hantavirus in the United States that can cause HPS is the Sin Nombre virus, spread by the deer mouse.”
Causes of Hantavirus
- According to the Govt of Canada’s Public Health Service, one can get the disease by inhaling virus particles from rodent urine, droppings or saliva.
- It can happen when rodent waste is served up from vacuuming or sweeping.
- It can be caused due to touching objects or eating food or saliva that has been released in the air.
- Rat bites can also cause it but it’s very rare.
The CDC: “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.”
Signs & Symptoms of Hantavirus
HPS has a small incubation period and symptoms deliver over 1 to 8 weeks. Early ones include:
- Muscle aches
- These occur in large muscle groups like thighs, hips, back and shoulders
- Others include headaches, dizziness, chills, abdominal pain, nausea vomiting, diarrhoea.
- Later symptoms include lungs filling with fluid, which feel like a pillow on one’s face.
For those unaware, there have been sporadic cases in India. In 2008, the Hantavirus struck the Irulas, a group of snake and rat catchers. In 2016, a 12-year-old in Mumbai had died of the hantavirus infections.