Should you worry about hantavirus? Explaining its spread
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Should you worry about hantavirus? Explaining its spread

It belongs to the family of hantaviruses which is spread through rodents and causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome or HPS.

A news report in China’s Global Times sent the world into tizzy on Tuesday. It said that a man has died in the country of hantavirus, in the Yunnan Province.

Countries which are already reeling under the coronavirus crisis, this news was enough to create panic. Many users quickly logged on to the internet to find out what hantavirus is and what kind of disease it can cause.

It belongs to the family of hantaviruses which is spread through rodents and causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome or HPS, according to US-based Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

So, primarily, this virus is present in rats in China, and it is far from becoming a global pandemic. The disease is transmitted if someone breathes in contaminated air, according to the CDC.

It spreads as a result of close contact with rodent urine, saliva and droppings. The CDC further says that the rare virus cannot be transmitted from one human to another.

The symptoms of the HPS include fever, muscle ache, fatigue, dizziness – similar to those of influenza. Coughing and shortening of breath can happen later, when the infection reaches the lungs and fills it with liquid, according to the CDC.

There is no vaccine for treating HPS, the infected person needs to be immediately rushed to the intensive care unit or ICU of a hospital, the CDC says in its advisory. “The sooner a person gets intensive care, he will get better,” it says.

Hantavirus has come at a time when the world is grappling with an outbreak of coronavirus which, after starting in China’s Wuhan in December last year, spread rapidly across the globe. It has infected more than 4,00,000 people, and killed nearly 19,000.

Many countries, including India, have imposed lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus disease Covid-19, which has severely affected Europe and the United States.