Just a few days ago, in the Province of Yunnan, a man died on a bus. He tested positive for a completely different virus than coronavirus, one much more fatal, that produces very similar symptoms. The deadly virus is Hantavirus. The question that rises now is: should we have concerns about a pandemic outbreak again ?
WHAT IS HANTAVIRUS ?
Hantavirus is found in rodents and only passes to humans if someone ingest their bodily fluids. I can very rarely pass through a bite, according to the CDC. The first case of Hantavirus ever reported was in the 1950s, during the American-Korean war in Korea, in the Hantan river. While hantavirus is quite rare, it has a 38% death rate.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND HOW DOES IT SPREAD ?
People infected by hantavirus will show fever, bleeding and kidney damage. The incubation period is usually 7 to 14 days. Early symptoms include exhaustion, vomiting and red cheeks, as well as headaches, coughing and shortness of breath, like in the coronavirus. The virus is contracted from rodents, both wild, or pet, after exposure with feces, urine or other bodily fluids such as saliva.
In China, vaccines for hantavirus have been available for about 20 years and it has been quite efficient at preventing the infection.
SHOULD WE FEAR A PANDEMIC ?
According to CDC, no !
The new virus starting just as China start lifting its strict quarantines from COVID-19 sparked a panic among many on social media. Though there is no treatment or cure for hantavirus infection, experts quickly pointed out that :
- It is not a new virus
- It is not known to have been passed between humans, so it makes it very difficult to spread from the point of original infection.
HOW TO PREVENT HANTAVIRUS ?
Experts say that the best way to prevent hantavirus is to avoid contact with rodents. And if you are in contact with rodents, you should wear gloves and a mask, especially when cleaning their urine and feces. If you have a rodent as a pet at home, always wear gloves to manipulate your pet, and clean their living area with a detergent and 1.5 cup of bleach in a gallon of water.