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Man dies of hantavirus in China — what is this virus and how it spreads

Chinese state-run Global Times reported that a person from Yunnan Province died while on his way back to Shandong Province for work on a chartered bus Monday.

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New Delhi: Even as the world is grappling with the coronavirus, hantavirus of Korean origin, has claimed the life of a man in China.

Chinese state-run Global Times reported that a person from Yunnan Province died while on his way back to Shandong Province for work on a chartered bus Monday.

“He was tested positive for #hantavirus. Other 32 people on bus were tested,” it tweeted.

There was no immediate confirmation about the test results of the other passengers on board the bus.

According to the US’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease in humans caused by infection with hantaviruses. It added that 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, it said.

Even though the US has not reported any case in which the virus was transmitted from one person to another, the CDC noted that 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.

Also read: COVID-19 impact in India: A look at the statistics, the science and the reality

How is the Hantavirus spread?

According to CDC, rodents shed the virus in their urine, droppings, and saliva. The virus is mainly transmitted to people when they breathe in air contaminated with the virus.

“When fresh rodent urine, droppings, or nesting materials are stirred up, tiny droplets containing the virus get into the air. This process is known as ‘airborne transmission’,” it said.

However, there are several other ways rodents may spread hantavirus to people, including if a rodent with the virus bites someone.

Scientists believe that people may get the virus if they touch something that has been contaminated with rodent urine, droppings, or saliva, and then touch their face.

People can become sick if they eat food contaminated by urine, droppings, or saliva from an infected rodent, the CDC said.

Symptoms of the virus

CDC says that early symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups — thighs, hips, back, and shoulders at times. These symptoms are universal.

It added that there may also be headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

About half of all HPS patients experience these symptoms, it said.

Treatment for the virus

There is no specific treatment, cure, or vaccine for hantavirus infection.

“However, we do know that if infected individuals are recognised early and receive medical care in an intensive care unit, they may do better. In intensive care, patients are intubated and given oxygen therapy to help them through the period of severe respiratory distress,” CDC said.

Also read: China to lift restrictions in Wuhan after 2-month lockdown due to coronavirus


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