What is Hantavirus? | Symptoms | Causes | Types of Diseases | Treatment

Amid all the chaos of Covid-19, reporting to have killed over 16,000 people around the world, here emerges a new Virus called the Hantavirus of China. While people are still combating against the Coronavirus disease, this new virus has again created havoc in the mind of people. A Chinese state-run Global Times reported that a person from Yunnan Province on his way back from work died on a chartered bus on Monday. He was said to have been infected by a virus called Hantavirus. According to The Global Times “He was tested positive for hantavirus. Tests on other 32 persons on the bus were going on”.

So what is this Hantavirus? How deadly is it when compared to the already rising endemic the Coronavirus? Let’s discuss these in the depth of the article.

What Is Hantavirus?

picture of a rat relating to hantavirus

Hantavirus is a term that refers to a group of RNA containing viruses that are transmitted through rodents such as rats or mice and can cause severe infection in humans. It can be extremely fatal in some cases.

They are mainly responsible for severe respiratory infections of two types-

  • Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)
  • Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome (HFRS).

Types of Disease:


HPS or Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is a severe respiratory disease in humans. This Hantavirus infection or disease is caused when a person is infected by a Hantavirus. It results in a condition called “Pulmonary Edema”. In such a case, the human lungs are filled with a liquid/fluid that ultimately leads to death in some of the cases. A person can get HPS if he/she breathes in a Hantavirus that is present in the air through rodent urine and droppings. People are also susceptible to catching the virus if they come in contact with rat urine or droppings and then touch their eyes, nose and/or mouth.

HFRS or Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome is also caused by Hantavirus from the family Bunyaviridae. It is a Hantavirus infection of acute interstitial nephropathy. To be more specific, high fever and varying degrees of renal insufficiency and hemorrhage characterize it. A Nephropathy is a disease of the kidneys. It happens because the small blood vessels or to the units in the kidneys that clean the blood get damage.


According to some reports, the following symptoms are related to Hantaviruses :

  • Fatigue
  • Fever, and
  • Muscle aches.

The reports also suggested that a person affected by the virus may also undergo nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ), an untreated person can lead to coughing and shortness of breath and can be fatal. 38% is the mortality rate/death rate of the Virus whereas the mortality rate/death rate of Coronavirus is just 2%. So we can imagine how dangerous it can be.

As of January 2017, 728 cases of this disease have been reported so far since the first Hantavirus outbreak in 1993.

Treatment or Cures so Far?

To date, there has been no treatment, vaccine or cure for an individual infected by HPS. If early symptoms persist, then the best choice for the individual is to seek medical care as soon as possible. Because the chances of restricting the effect of the virus are less at the early stages.

For HFRS, vaccines are indeed available. These vaccines have been produced by growing hantavirus (Hantaan or Seoul virus strains) in rodent brain or cell cultures. The next step is inactivation by either formalin or beta-propiolactone (According to WHO). This Virus is primarily related to rodents such as rats and mice. So it is better that we keep our surroundings clean for the prevention of diseases.


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