Amid coronavirus chaos, another deadly virus called 'Hantavirus' emerges in China

Bubonic plague is mainly spread to humans by infected fleas from small animals, mainly rodents. © Shutterstock

While the world is struggling to fight the Coronavirus pandemic, another deadly virus has emerged in China. The virus is caused by rodents and can spread in humans who come in contact them.

The world has come to a standstill as the novel coronavirus continue to expand its reach across the globe. Many countries have shut themselves off from the rest of the world to contain the spread of the virus. Amidst this tension and fear, China has reported emergence of another deadly virus named Hantavirus.

As per media reports, a man died within hours after testing positive for Hantavirus in China's Yunnan province. As many as 32 other people have been tested for the same and are awaiting their test results.

What exactly it is?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents. It causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). One can get the disease by inhaling virus particles from rodent urine, dropping or saliva. A bite from an infected host may cause the infection.

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This means, 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 the CDC said in its website.

Signs & Symptoms of HPS

Early symptoms of HPS include fever, fatigue and muscle aches in thighs, hips, back and shoulders. An infected person may also experience headaches, dizziness, chills, abdominal pain, nausea vomiting, diarrhoea.

Later symptoms include lungs filling with fluid, which feel like pillow on one's face.

Treatment and prevention

There is no specific treatment for the disease. The patient may be provided medical care and put in ICU, where oxygen therapy can help with respiratory distress. Early treatment is the best way to deal with this infection.

Precautionary measures one can take to avoid HPS infection include-

  • Minimising contact with rats
  • Cleaning up home or workplace properly
  • Using pest control to keep rodents away

More dangerous than coronavirus

HPS has fatality rate of 38%, which make it more dangerous than coronavirus.

There had been many cases of HPS infections in India. In 2008, it infected the Irulas, a group of snake and rat catchers. In 2016, hantavirus infection killed a 12-year-old child in Mumbai.

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