Hantavirus- A New Biological Candidate for Potential Global Outbreak?

Hantavirus- A New Biological Candidate for Potential Global Outbreak

With an influx of information available just a click away, it is easy to get flooded by the information of all sorts without knowing if it is authentic or just another misinformation. Same happened with the sudden news of Hantavirus and it became top trending on twitter.

 A passenger from Yunnan-China died from a disease other than COVID-19. The test results showed that the cause of death was hantavirus. The other passengers were tested and their results came negative.

The world reacted quickly to this news claiming this is again a new virus similar to the COVID-19 and fearing that it might cause another pandemic like COVID-19 as both viruses had the same origin. But, experts were also quick to highlight that it is not a new virus and it rarely transmits from human to human. 

Before finding the similarity and differences between COVID-19 and Hantavirus here are the things you need to know about Hantavirus.

Hantavirus – Not a new virus

Yes, it is not a virus, this was a mere rumour. Hantaviruses date back to the 1950s when it was first reported in Korea near Hantan River during the Korea-America War, hence it is named after Hantan River.

Hantavirus or Orthohantavirus belongs to the family of those viruses that are mainly spread through the rodents and are responsible for various disease syndromes in the people globally. This virus mostly causes infection in the rodents but may not cause disease in them. However, if a person comes in contact with the infected rodent’s saliva, urine and faeces or if the infected rodent bites the person then he may become infected with the Hantaviruses.

Like other viruses, Hantaviruses have many strains as well but not all the strains are lethal for humans. However, some strains can cause serious diseases such as “Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)” or Hantavirus Cardiopulmonary Syndrome (HCPS)” and are known as “New World” viruses in America. “Old World” viruses which cause “Hantavirus hemorrhagic fever with Renal Syndrome (HFRS)” are normally found in Asia and Europe. Other Hantaviruses are not known to cause disease in humans.

The Similarity between Hantavirus and COVID-19

Due to the specific rodent host for each Hantavirus, the incubation period of the virus is not known exactly. Like COVID-19, Hantavirus belongs to RNA viruses but having different genetic makeup.

The symptoms of Hantavirus such as cough, shortness of breath, fever, headache, nausea, diarrhoea etc seemed similar to COVID-19 or other cold viruses due to which people panicked over this mirroring similarity. 

But here are the major differences between COVID-19 and Hantavirus

Experts reported that even though HPS is a known disease due to Hantavirus but still human to human transmission is extremely rare as it is not an air-borne virus as per CDC reports. While COVID-19 was able to infect people due to human-to-human transmission. Hantavirus does not have such characteristics as that of COVID-19 and as we already explained above its main cause of transmission is rodents infected with Hantaviruses.

So, there is no need to worry as it won’t become pandemic like COVID-19 and it won’t infect you unless you have encountered an infected rodent.

As per the CDC, it should also be highlighted that both COVID-19 and Hantavirus at the moment do not have specific medical treatment, cure or medicine, so you need to take proper care of yourself as the mortality rate of Hantavirus is 38% and for COVID-19 it is 2-3%. 

Remember prevention is better than cure and in case of emergency, you must consult your medical officer. 

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