Health

Hantavirus not as contagious as coronavirus

Hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents

 
Last Updated: Wednesday 25 March 2020

A case of a man in China infected with another virus, called the Hantavirus, emerged on March 23, 2020, at a time when the country was on a path to recovery from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The man, from China’s Yunnan province, died while travelling in a bus to Shandong province.

All 32 of the man’s co-passengers were tested for the virus.

The news fuelled fears of another epidemic at a time when the world is attempting to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is, however, no cause for worry over another disease spreading across the world.

Hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Cases of the Hantavirus are rare, with the virus only spreading through close contact with rodent urine, droppings or saliva.

Human infection takes place mostly through inhalation of aerosolised and virus-contaminated rodent excreta.

The Hantavirus is also rarely transmitted from one human to another, unlike the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which is highly contagious.

The last reported Hantavirus outbreak dates back to 1993, in an area shared by US’ Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah, known as ‘The Four Corners’.

There are treatment protocols in place to tackle the Hantavirus. There were only 728 confirmed cases of those infected by the Hantavirus in the US, while the number of cases of those infected by SARS-CoV-2 in the country crossed 50,000 in just two months.

There are mainly two types of hantaviruses.

‘New world’ Hantaviruses are found in the US and can cause Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, the symptoms of which include fever, coughing and shortness of breath.

‘Old world’ Hantaviruses are found in Asia and Europe. This kind of Hantavirus can cause Haemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome (HFRS).

HFRS can cause low blood pressure, acute shock, vascular leakage, and acute kidney failure.

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