Hantavirus: A not-so-new disease on our radar

As the world battles the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), a not-so-new disease called ‘hantavirus’ has popped up on our radar.

Hantavirus is spread by some types of rodents, including rats.

Luckily, scientists are saying it isn’t something we need to worry about too much, as the cases are rare.

It is understood that the virus is not spread by human-to-human contact. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is spread through close contact with rodent droppings, urine and saliva. Humans can get the virus by inhaling the contaminated air.

There have also been instances where persons have contracted hantavirus after being bitten by an infected host.

Potentially fatal

But don’t let your guard down too much, as it was recently reported that a man in China died from the virus.

According to USA Today, the virus can lead to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, which is a potentially fatal respiratory illness. Some of the symptoms are fatigue, fever, muscle aches, headaches, dizziness, chills and abdominal problems. And when it gets more serious and the lungs are filled with liquid, it can cause coughing or shortness of breath.

Hantavirus can also lead to hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. The symptoms include intense headaches, back and abdominal pain, fever, chills, nausea, and blurred vision, as well as flushing of the face, inflammation or redness of the eyes, or a rash. If it worsens, it could result in low blood pressure, acute shock, vascular leakage and acute kidney failure.

Between 1993 and 2018, more than 700 hantavirus cases were reported in the United States. Most of these cases were not fatal.