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Hantavirus kills a man in China, people frantic on social media

Hantavirus kills a man in China, people frantic on social media
March 24
18:30 2020

NEW DELHI: As novel coronavirus wreaks havoc on the world and its economy, China is apparently witnessing a resurgence of another virus -– this time from rodents that reside in the dark underbelly of our world.

Global Times tweeted on Tuesday that 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 bus were tested”.

The tweet went viral on various social media platforms, with people saying does ‘coronavirus needs a backup now?” “I think am ready to move to another planet. Honestly,” tweeted one user.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease in humans caused by infection with hantaviruses. Early symptoms of HPS include fatigue, fever, and muscle aches, especially in thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders. An infected person may also experience headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems.

According to the Center 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.

Hantaviruses in the Americas 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).

Each hantavirus serotype has a specific rodent host species and is spread to people via an aerosolized virus that is shed in urine, feces, and saliva, and less frequently by a bite from an infected host. 

Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry hantaviruses is at risk of HPS. Rodent infestation in and around the home remains the primary risk for hantavirus exposure. Even healthy individuals are at risk for HPS infection if exposed to the virus. In Chile and Argentina, rare cases of person-to-person transmission have occurred among close contacts of a person who was ill with a type of hantavirus called Andes virus, according to the CDC.

However, not all were impressed by the news.

“Hantavirus has been around since the 1970s. The human-to-human spread is possible but very rare. Let’s not add fuel to the flame,” tweeted one user on Global Times’ Twitter handle.

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