What is hantavirus?
According to China’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, “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. Hantaviruses in the America are known as “New World” hantaviruses and may cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Other hantaviruses, known as “Old World” hantaviruses, are found mostly in Europe and Asia and may cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).”
Reports suggest that a 12-year-old had tested positive of hantavirus in Mumbai in 2016 and died of the infection.
What causes hantavirus?
China’s CDC states: “Each hantavirus serotype has a specific rodent host species and is spread to people via aerosolized virus that is shed in urine, feces, and saliva, and less frequently by a bite from an infected host. The most important hantavirus in the United States that can cause HPS is the Sin Nombre virus, spread by the deer mouse.”
Moreover, Canada’s Public Health Service states that the disease can be caused “by inhaling virus particles from rodent urine, droppings or saliva”. The disease can be caused when a person comes in contact with the virus by touching objects or eating food or saliva that has been released in the air. It is claimed that a rat bite can cause the disease in rare circumstances.
What are the symptoms of hantavirus?
Hantavirus has a brief incubation period and it can be delivered to a victim over one to eight weeks.
Symptoms include: Fever, fatigue and muscle ache
Large muscle groups like thighs, hips, back and shoulders often ache when someone is infected with hantavirus.
Other symptoms include body chills, abdominal pain, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
In an advance stage, the lungs of an infected person get filling with fluid and the victim has difficulty in breathing.
How does hantavirus spread?
Humans can contract hantavirus when they come in contact with rodents that carry the virus.
The disease cannot be passed on from person to person.
It can be contracted if someone touches their eyes, nose or mouth after touching rodent droppings, urine, or nesting materials.