Srinagar: While the whole world is busy fighting against Covid_19 which originated late last year in Wuhan, the city of China another new disease, Hantavirus emerged now from Yunnan province.
“A person from Yunnan Province died while on his way back to Shandong Province for work on a chartered bus on Monday. He was tested positive for Hantavirus. Other 32 people on the bus were tested”tweeted China’s Global Times
The death of the person has caused a wave of panic among the netizens as the whole world is already engulfed by dangerous Covid_19 which has so far taken a heavy toll of life across several countries.
What is this new virus?
As per the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents and can cause varied disease syndromes in people worldwide. Infection with any hantavirus can produce hantavirus disease in people. It may cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).”
It is different from coronavirus, this disease does not spread from one person to another but it can be contracted if someone touches their eyes, nose or mouth after touching rodent droppings, urine, or nesting materials.
Signs and symptoms?
Early symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups—thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders. These symptoms are universal.
There may also be headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Four to 10 days after the initial phase of illness, the late symptoms of HPS appear. These include coughing and shortness of breath.
How to prevent yourself?
According to the CDC, the best prevention against contracting hantavirus is to eliminate or minimize contact with rodents in the home, workplace, or campsite.As the virus can be transmitted by rodent saliva, excretions, and bites, control of rats and mice in areas frequented by humans is key for disease prevention. General prevention can be accomplished by disposing of rodent nests, sealing any cracks and holes in homes where mice or rats could get in, setting up traps, or laying down poisons or using natural predators such as cats in the home.
Moreover, Keep foods in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids.
Clean up spilled food and dirty dishes right away.
Keep outside cooking areas and grills clean.
Put pet food away right after use. Do not leave pet food or water bowls out overnight.
Keep bird feeders away from the house. Use squirrel guards to keep rodents away from your feeders.
Keep compost bins at least 100 feet from your house.
Animal feed should be kept in rodent-proof containers with tight lids. At night, return all uneaten animal food to these containers.
Eliminate nesting sites near the home. Woodpiles, hay, and garbage cans should be at least a foot off the ground.
Ribavirin may be a drug for HPS and HFRS but its effectiveness remains unknown, still, spontaneous recovery is possible with supportive treatment. People with suspected hantavirus infection may be admitted to the hospital, given oxygen and mechanical ventilation support to help them breathe during the acute pulmonary stage with severe respiratory distress.
No need to panic!
No, you shouldn’t, as long as rodents problem is under control. The timing and the circumstances of the death (due to the coronavirus pandemic) is not the best, it is important to not give in to alarmist reports, and refrain yourself from panicking. While it is true that the hantavirus has proved to have led to deaths, it has over time been certified to be non-contagious. As a result, the solitary death should not make you spread the word of a potential pandemic in the making.
In cases of HFRS, the US CDC states that the fatality rate can be less than 1 percent for certain sub-familiae of the hantavirus, and at the most severe, higher than 15 percent. As for the HPS, the CDC states, “Previous observations of patients that develop HPS from New World Hantaviruses recover completely. No chronic infection has been detected in humans. Some patients have experienced longer than expected recovery times, but the virus has not been shown to leave lasting effects on the patient.”
Hantavirus is not likely to turn into another Coronavirus pandemic that will keep you quarantined in your homes again. It would be prudent to go to useful resources like official government websites or World Health Organisation websites to read up on the Hantavirus before you begin spreading any fake rumours that might induce panic or spew unwarranted hate towards China.
However, as always, it is important to remain alert to hygiene essentials. If you spot any rat infestation nearby, be sure to take steps and actions against it. Steer clear of any contaminated area that you can visibly spot, and inform the authorities if you spot such an infestation.