Answers To Queries Regarding The Life-Threatening Hanta Virus
With a pandemic already in action around the world taking thousands of lives and disturbing the economic ecosystem, any virus is making to the headlines today on 25th March 2020 called the Hanta Virus. The virus has already taken a life of a man from Yunnan Province who died while on his way back to Shandong Province for work on a bus on 23rd March 2020.
What is Hanta Viruses?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the life-threatening hantaviruses are a family of viruses which are spread mainly by rodents and can cause varied diseases in people. The virus not only causes fatal illness but also hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) and haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).
How Does It Spread?
Consisting of several different viruses, the disease is not airborne and can only spread to people if they come in contact with urine, faeces, and saliva of rodents and less frequently by a bite from an infected host.
What are Rodents?
a gnawing mammal of an order that includes rats, mice, squirrels, hamsters, porcupines, and their relatives, distinguished by strong constantly growing incisors and no canine teeth. They constitute the largest order of mammals.
Symptoms of Hantavirus
- To detect this virus early, well the symptoms of HPS include fatigue, fever, and muscle aches, along with headaches, dizziness, chills and abdominal problems. One must not ignore these and once left ignored, it can lead to coughing and shortness of breath and can be fatal, with a mortality rate of 38 per cent, according to CDC.
- While the initial symptoms of HFRS too remain the same, it can cause low blood pressure, acute shock, vascular leakage, and acute kidney failure. Now, the question arises, is the virus transferrable between humans. Well, it can’t be passed on from person to person, while HFRS transmission between people is extremely rare.
- But, there is airborne transmission, it means that when the virus-containing fresh rodent urine, droppings, or nesting materials are stirred up, tiny droplets containing the virus get into the air, and humans breathe this air contaminated with the virus, they have high chances of transmission.
The CDC also said rodent population control is the primary strategy for preventing hantavirus infections.
What are the precautions?
One should avoid any activity that puts them into the risk of acquiring Hantavirus. In the list of What one should avoid is any activity that puts you in contact with rodent droppings, urine, saliva, or nesting materials can place you at risk for infection, including the house cleaning services especially in a house that are prone to have become the shelter of the rodents, and the work-related exposure in buildings where the construction, utility and pest control workers work.
It can be related to opening or cleaning cabins, sheds, and outbuildings, including barns, garages and storage facilities Hantavirus is spread when virus-containing particles from rodent urine, droppings, or saliva are stirred into the air. It is important to avoid actions that raise dust, such as sweeping or vacuuming. Infection occurs when you breathe in virus particles.
Is India under Threat?
According to the source CDC website, “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 haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).
For Indians, one should be aware of the risks and precautions:
- Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry hantaviruses is at risk of HPS as the rodent infestation in and around the home remains the primary risk for hantavirus exposure.
- Even, the healthy individuals are at risk for HPS infection if exposed to the virus especially people who work, play, or live in closed spaces where rodents are actively living.
- However, recent research results show that many people who have become ill with HPS were infected with the disease after continued contact with rodents and/or their droppings.
- Also, many people who have contracted HPS reported that they had not seen rodents or their droppings before becoming ill.
- Therefore, if you live in an area where the carrier rodents, such as the deer mouse, are known to live, take sensible precautions-even if you do not see rodents or their droppings.
All this information by the CDC is helpful and should be taken into consideration to avoid the situation of the havoc that is caused by reading information online.