In the midst of the coronavirus epidemic which has claimed the lives of thousands of people around the world, a man from China – where the novel coronavirus emerged – has died after testing positive for hantavirus.
China’s Global Times reported that the man from Yunnan Province died on a bus while on his way back to Shandong Province for work on Monday. The 32 other people on the bus were also tested for the virus.
What exactly is the hantavirus?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hantaviruses are a family of viruses that are spread mainly by rodents and can cause various diseases in people.
It can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).
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
Early symptoms of HPS include fatigue, fever, and muscle aches, along with headaches, dizziness, chills and abdominal problems. 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 the CDC.
While the initial symptoms of HFRS too remain the same, it can cause low blood pressure, acute shock, vascular leakage, and acute kidney failure.
HPS can’t be passed on from person to person, while HFRS transmission between people is extremely rare.
As per the CDC, rodent population control is the primary strategy for preventing hantavirus infections.
Can the hantavirus transmit from human to human?
Unlike coronavirus, hantavirus is not airborne. HPS cannot be transmitted from human to human. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that a person could become infected with hantavirus through contact with rodent urine, saliva or feces. There is no proof that hantavirus can be transmitted from one person to another.
CDS, in its report further highlighted that 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. It is further important to note that pets like dogs and cats are not known to carry hantavirus.
Do you need to quarantine?
Since the Hantavirus is not airborne and does not have a history of transmitting from human to human, a quarantine will not be necessary. Scientists believe that people may contract the virus if they touch something that has been contaminated by rodent urine, droppings, or saliva, and then touch their nose or mouth.
Hantavirus is not a new virus as the first outbreak dates back in May 1993 in the southwestern United States. It does not transmit from human to human and there is no necessity to create panic.