Hantavirus – Cause, Symptoms & Treatment
Health & Fitness

Hantavirus – Cause, Symptoms & Treatment

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It is the last week of March 2020; the entire world is fighting and luckily it is not ‘World War’ but it is not less than a war. The entire country of the world is one side and on the other side is Coronavirus. Coronavirus started from Wuhan City in China in November 2019 and spreading in around the world like anything. Italy, Iran, Spain, Germany, the United States, India, South Korea, and many more countries are there where coronavirus enters and killing the people. You can imagine the seriousness that the second largest country in population ‘India’ is lockdown for the next 3 weeks (till 14th April 2020) due to Coronavirus because only social distancing is a solution. No medicine – no vaccine is there for Coronavirus.

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Where the entire world is fighting against Coronavirus, we are hearing about a new virus – Hantavirus. A man died from China’s Yunnan province who was heading to his workplace by chartered bus in Shandong province on Monday 23 March 2020. He was tested positive for Hantavirus. All the fellow 32 passengers on the bus have been tested for the virus. Although Hantavirus is not a new virus; it has only rarely thought to have been passed between humans.

What is Hantavirus?

Hantavirus belongs to a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents. Some Hantaviruses can cause a rare but deadly disease called Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). It is a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease in humans. Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry Hantaviruses is at risk of HPS.

Three main clinical syndromes can be distinguished after hantavirus infection: hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS), mainly caused by Seoul, Puumala and Dobrava viruses; nephropathia epidemica, a mild form of HFRS caused by Puumala virus; and hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome, which may be caused by the Andes virus, Sin Nombre virus, and several others. The Hantavirus first emerged in the 1950s in the American-Korean war in Korea (Hantan River). It spreads from rat/mice if humans ingest their body fluids.

How does the Hantavirus spread?

Hantavirus spread mainly by rodents. Transmission of the virus to humans occurs through the inhalation of infected rodent urine, droppings, or saliva. According to the CDC, “Each hantavirus serotype has a specific rodent host species and is spread to people via aerosolized virus that is shed in urine, faces, and saliva, and less frequently by a bite from an infected host.” Healthy persons are at risk for HPS infection if exposed to the virus. So it means Hantavirus is not transferring from human-to-human contact. You are safe unless you plan to eat rats.

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Sign and Symptoms of Hantavirus:

If people get infected, they will feel sick 1 to 5 weeks after they were around mice or rats that carried a Hantavirus. Sign and symptoms of Hantavirus are:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Severe muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups – thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders

There may also be headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. They may feel coughing and shortness of breath also. Usually, people do not have a runny nose, sore throat, or a rash.

How Hantavirus Affects Your Body?

Hantaviruses infect people when they are inhaled. If the virus reaches your lungs, it can infect the cells that line the tiny blood vessels in the lungs, causing them to become “leaky.” The leaky blood vessels allow fluid to fill the lungs making it difficult to breathe.

When the virus infects the heart, the damage reduces its ability to pump blood around the body. This failure causes very low blood pressure (“shock”) as oxygen is not available to all the cells of the body. This can rapidly lead to the failure of most or all of the organs and can quickly lead to death.

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How to prevent Hantavirus?

  • Keep mice and rats out of your home.
  • Clean up mouse and rat urine, droppings, and nesting materials with a disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water.

Treatment of Hantavirus:

Just like Coronavirus, there is no specific treatment, cure, or vaccine for Hantavirus infection. The only precaution is cure. To eliminate or minimize contact with rodents in your home or in the workplace is the best step. If you have been around rodents and have symptoms of fever, deep muscle aches, and severe shortness of breath, see your doctor immediately.

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