Hantavirus: All you need to know about the ‘new China virus’ and why you should not panic
Amid the spread of COVID-19 which has infected over 400,000 across the world, the report of another deadly virus which killed a man in China on Tuesday sent shockwaves across the internet.
Chinese local media reports on Tuesday that a man who died on a bus in the country tested positive for hantavirus which is more fatal than COVID-19 and has very similar symptoms.
Coming at a time when COVID-19 is spreading across Nigeria with no cure found for it yet, the news increased panic on the internet and made hantavirus a top trending topic on Twitter Nigeria and other parts of the world. On Google trends, hantavirus and ‘New virus in China’ were the most searched topics in Nigeria on Tuesday. Hantavirus had over 500,000 searches, while ‘New virus in China’ had over 20,000 searches from curious netizens.
All you need to know:
According to the United States Center for Disease Conctol (CDC) hantavirus is an infection found in rodents which leads to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease in humans.
2. The CDC says the virus is spread mainly from rodents (rats) and humans can contract the virus by coming into contact with droppings, urine, saliva and nesting materials from infected rodents, and it can also be transferred from person-to-person.
3. The symptoms are similar to COVID-19 and include shortness of breath, coughing, headaches and fevers.
4. Although it is rare, it carries a 38 per cent death rate.
4. There is no specific treatment, cure, or vaccine for hantavirus infection.
5. Contrary to presumption that it is a new virus, experts say it has been around for over five decades.
Why you should not panic:
Swedish scientist Dr Sumaiya Shaikh while trying to douse public fears tweeted on Tuesday:
“The #Hantavirus first emerged in 1950s in the American-Korean war in Korea (Hantan river).
“It spreads from rat/mice if humans ingest their body fluids. Human-human transmission is rare. Please do not panic, unless you plan to eat rats.”
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