what-is-hantavirus

China’s English daily Global Times has reported the death of a person from Yunnan Province who tested positive for the hantavirus. 

Background: 

  • According to the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the hantavirus is not novel and its first case dates back to 1993.
  • Scenario in New World:
    • The Sin Nombre hantavirus carried by the deer mouse is responsible for the majority cases of the hantavirus infection in the USA.
    • Hantaviruses in the Americas are known as “New World” hantaviruses and may cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). 
  • Scenario in Old World:
    • Other hantaviruses, known as “Old World” hantaviruses, are found mostly in Europe and Asia and may cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).

About Hantavirus:

  • Spread by rodents: A person can get infected if he/she comes in contact with a rodent that carries the virus.
  • There are various other kinds of hantaviruses that find hosts in rodents, like the white-footed mouse and the cotton rat among others, that may lead to infections in humans if transmitted.
  • Mortality rates:Hantavirus pulmonary disease (HPS) can be fatal and has a mortality rate of 38 per cent.
  • An orthohantavirus is a single-stranded, enveloped, negative-sense RNA virus in the family Hantaviridae of the order Bunyavirales. These viruses normally cause infection in rodents, but do not cause disease in them. 
  • Mostly spread: rural areas where forests, fields and farms offer suitable habitat for infected rodents.
  • Human to Human transmission:
    •  It is not clear that human to human transmission takes place.
    • However, Chile and Argentina have had rare cases, where close contacts of the patient, who was ill with a type of hantavirus called the Andes virus, were also infected.

Symptoms of Hantavirus:

  • Symptoms of hantavirus develop over one to eight week after the person gets exposed to fresh urine, faeces or the saliva of infected rodents.
  • Symptoms include: fever, fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, chills and abdominal problems. Four to ten days after being infected, late symptoms of HPS may start to appear, which include coughing and shortness of breath.

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