The Recent Spread of Hantavirus: What It Is And How Exactly It Spreads
Amidst the coronavirus epidemic, another virus has emerged in China killing a man and creating panic. This virus is named the Hantavirus. Although the spread of hantavirus seems new, it is not new at all. It is a decades-old virus that existed in South Korea since 1978. Even in 2012 and 2017, the United States saw small outbreaks of this virus. The virus causes HPS or Hantavirus pulmonary syn
drome. A hantavirus patient shows symptoms including fever, fatigue and muscle aches, etc. The virus is transmitted through rodents and can infect a person within one to five weeks after coming in contact with the virus. In the depth of this post, we will discuss thoroughly how the spread of Hantavirus takes place among a population.
What Is Hantavirus?
The virus gets its name from the Hantan river in South Korea. The very first cases of the infection by the virus were found near the Hantan river. The initial appearance of the virus dates back to the Korean war.
The Hantavirus genus is a part of the Bunyaviridae family since 1981. There are more than 21 species in the hantavirus genus. The NCBI (National Centre for Biotechnology Information) of the United State has mentioned these 21 species of hantavirus in a journal. The virus is known as ‘New World’ hantavirus in the United States and the one found mostly in Europe and Asia is known as the ‘Old World’ Hantavirus. The former causes HPS (Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome) and the later causes HFRS (Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome).
How Spread of Hantavirus Takes Place?
The transmission process of the virus is ‘airborne transmission’. The main carrier of the virus is rodents or rats. Rodents that carry the virus transmit it through urine, saliva, and droppings.
The virus in the rat residue is stirred up by air. This can happen during the sweeping or vacuuming of previously rat occupied areas. If a person breaths the air containing the virus, they might get infected by the virus. People who come in contact with the rat residue for the purposes of cleaning are also at risk of being a victim of the hantavirus infection. Touching the nose and mouth after touching infected rat droppings, saliva, and urine or any surface that came in contact with the infected droppings, saliva and urine is how the virus gets inside the body.
In the United States, the rats belonging to the family of deer mice, cotton rats,white-footed mice, and rice rats are the ones to blame for the transmission of the virus. They infected the Southeastern and Northeastern States of the Country. The spread of Hantavirus to a person also takes place if an infected rat bites him or her. If a person eats any food that contains the virus, they might get infected too. The virus may come to food by direct contact with the rat or due to lack of hygiene during the cooking or serving of the food.
The ‘New World’ Hantavirus is quite unlikely to spread by contact or touch with an infected person. However, quite rare cases of transmission between person to person exist for a specific type of Hantavirus called Andes Virus. The Andes virus infection occurred in Chile and Argentina. This specific case of hantavirus in Argentina happened in 2019.
Measures To Prevent the Spread Of Hantavirus
People who frequently come in contact with rodents are at the most risk. So they should be really careful and hygienic during handling rat residue. Avoiding rodent contact is a pretty foolproof way to prevent the spread if possible. Decreasing rodent infestation is a pretty advisable step. Seal up holes and cracks where rodents reside. Use rat traps to catch and discard rats. Use sanitizers and disinfectants to clean floors and other surfaces. avid the stirring up of dust.
Wear rubber gloves while dealing with rat droppings. Discard the gloves after use. Washing hands and feet using alcohol-based disinfectants after cleaning and before cooking would be helpful. Hantavirus treatment is also definitely available, but preventing the disease is obviously better. Staying away from rats and wash hands well if you do happen to come in contact should work well to keep you safe.
Take all those necessary steps to prevent the spread of Hantavirus as the world has seen enough chaos through Coronavirus. The hantavirus death rate is way lower than that of the coronavirus disease.