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China Reported First Death by Hantavirus

Right now when the coronavirus has shaken the whole world, the least that people expect is the rising risk of another disease. Unfortunately, this is true and there are a number of other diseases being reported during this coronavirus pandemic that is worrisome.

Some of these diseases are bird flu, swine flu and the latest in this list is hantavirus. Cases of bird flu and swine flu are already reported from a number of countries including India. Now, this first confirmed case of hantavirus caused death in China is making to headlines.

The Global Times China has tweeted a few hours ago that one patient from a Chinese province, Yunnan has lost his life while traveling to Shandong (another Chinese province). He was later confirmed to be hantavirus positive. The other 32 passengers of the bus who were traveling with him are currently being tested for this virus.

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Hantavirus is not just one virus but a bunch of various  RNA viruses that belong to family Bunyaviridae of viruses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported hantaviruses to spread through rodents and cause respiratory diseases in patients that are named hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).

The hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is common among Americans and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) is common in people from China, Russia, Japan, and Korea. However, some of the hantavirus cases are also seen in people from Scandinavian countries and Western Europian countries. Note that this virus only transmits through direct contact with an infected object or contact with excretory material from rodents.

Hantavirus was first seen in 1993 when the US health officials reported initial outbreaks of this disease in four states including; Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. The common facts among all the positive cases included breathing problems. But soon the researchers found demographic associations with this disease. A rather bigger outbreak of HPS was reported from Yosemite National Park, Califonia in the year 2012. This disease was caused by deer mouse infestations that contaminated the local tourists.

The early symptoms of hantavirus infection include fever, body pain, soreness of muscles, fatigue, headache, abdominal discomfort and chills. An untreated infection can lead to further complications such as coughing, sneezing, difficulty in breathing which could be fatal. The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that HPS has a 38% mortality rate.

These symptoms are the same in HFRS with some additional symptoms that include an extremely low bp, vascular leakage, and sometimes acute kidney failure. There are rare chances for HPS and HFRS to be transmitted from one person to another.

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As already mentioned, there is more than one member of hantavirus, each one of these strains is related to a different type of host which is a rodent in this case. The virus is transmitted when it makes its way from rodents’ fecal material and saliva to a person. In extremely rare cases, it is also possible to get this virus from an infected animal bite. It is also possible for a person to get this virus if he touches his nose or mouth after being contaminated with any fecal material of a contaminated rodent or eating contaminated food.

People are much likely to get hantavirus from rural places such as during a trip to a forest, working in a field or working at a farm where rodents are abundant. This new case of hantavirus related death has been into light when coronavirus is already causing big trouble for the world. The coronavirus has now reached almost all international destinations and this news of hantavirus being identified in China might add up to the stress caused by the coronavirus.