Hantavirus: causes, symptoms and treatments

While medical professionals all over the world are tirelessly working to find a cure for the deadly coronavirus pandemic known as covid-19, another type of existing viral infection called hantavirus has surfaced killing a man from China’s Yunnan province on the 22nd march 2020.

The man’s death was reported to have occurred on his way back to Shandong province. This incidence made many people in China go for a hantavirus test of which about 32 people tested positive. This particular virus is not new perse as it has been existing before now.

Hantavirus may not be different from coronavirus as the former is contracted through contact with rodents faeces, urine or saliva. The later on the other hand is transmitted through contact with infected animals (domestic and wild) or humans including their saliva, blood, urine, and poop ( in rare cases).

Hantavirus: causes, symptoms and treatments

What is Hantavirus?

Hantavirus infection is a family of viruses spread mainly by domestic and wild rodents. It is found in the urine, saliva, faeces or droppings of infected rats, deer mice, and other rodents.

The infection can catch anyone who breaths in air infected by rodents saliva, urine or faeces and can cause varied disease syndromes in people globally.

infection with hantavirus can cause hanta virus diseases such as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS). Hantavirus is divided into two groups. the Hantaviruses in the Americas are known as “New World” hantaviruses while the hantaviruses found in Europe and Asia are known as “Old World”.

What causes Hantavirus?

Hantavirus in humans is caused when a healthy person inhales urine or saliva droplets of infected rodents such as deer mice, cotton rats, rice rats, etc. Eating foods that have been exposed to infected rodents faeces, urine or saliva can cause the virus. If you have broken skin and the droplets of a deer mice touch it you are likely to have hanta virus.

What are the symptoms of Hantavirus?

Early symptoms

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches (especially in the shoulder, thighs, hips and back)
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or abdominal pain

Late symptoms

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness of chest

What is the treatment for Hantavirus?

Right now, there is no available vaccine, treatment or cure for Hantavirus infection as most people diagnosed with the virus are usually given fever and pain medications alongside oxygen therapy to relieve their symptoms. Early detection of the virus will be of tremendous help as well. Seek medical care from professionals or from an intensive care unit if you are tested positive.

Is this virus common?

Like every other viral infection, hantavirus may be common. In the history of the virus, about 109 cases have been recorded and approximately 27 death cases have been confirmed ( Public Health Agency of Canada). All in Canada. The first case of the virus happened in 1989 followed by the ones that happened in 1994 in Canada.

How can I catch or contract the virus?

You can contract or catch hantavirus infection through inhalation of respirable droplets of urine, saliva or by contracting with the dust of feces from infected deer mouse and other rodents. Transmission can also occur when you eat or consume contaminated food and water or when you allow broken skin contact with contaminated material. For now, person to person transmission has not been reported but that does not mean its occurrence is impossible.

Source | CDC, Medlineplus

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