The novel coronavirus has infected almost four lakh people around the world and killed over 17,000 people. As the world and India, amid the massive lockdowns, struggles to find a cure for the pandemic, hantavirus finds the world trends. And like the Chinese city of Wuhan for the coronavirus, China seems to be the epicentre for this too.
China’s Global Times has reported that a man from China’s Yunnan Province died on his way back from work on Monday from hantavirus. The 32 other people on the bus were also tested for the virus.
WHAT IS HANTAVIRUS?
Hantavirus is a disease that affects the pulmonary region, and also the kidneys in the long run. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hantaviruses are a family of viruses which are spread mainly by rodents. Apart from pulmonary syndrome (HPS), it can also cause haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome.
Hantavirus isn’t airborne but if a person will contract the disease if he/she comes in contact with urine, saliva or faeces of a rodent carrying the virus.
SYMPTOMS OF HANTAVIRUS
The symptoms may be similar to coronavirus. Fatigue, fever, headache, muscle aches, abdominal pain, dizziness, diarrhoea, etc. can be early symptoms. According to the CDC, the disease has a very high mortality rate that of 38 per cent; therefore, if untreated, it can lead to coughing and breathing problems leading to death. Later symptoms include lungs filling with fluid, and it feels a like pillow on one’s face.
However, hantavirus cannot be passed from human to human.
The CDC website states, “There is no specific treatment, cure, or vaccine for hantavirus infection. However, we do know that if infected individuals are recognized early and receive medical care in an intensive care unit, they may do better. In intensive care, patients are intubated and given oxygen therapy to help them through the period of severe respiratory distress.”
However, it is very different from the novel coronavirus, which spreads from one person to another.
India has had its history with hantavirus in the past. Most recently, a 12-year-old boy from Colaba, Mumbai, died of the hantavirus infection in 2016.
Dr Aditya Agarwal, who treated the child, had then told Hindustan Times: “The child was brought to the hospital with complaints of breathlessness, cough, fever and a dropping platelet count. For the first five days, we conducted tests for leptospirosis, dengue and malaria, but the results were negative.
“He started coughing up blood from the next day onwards. Within 24 hours, his health deteriorated to the point where we had to put him on a ventilator.”
The child began bleeding profusely from both lungs.
As per the CDC, the population control of rodents is the key to prevent hantavirus infections.