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HPS - Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome Sends Many into Panic After Unfortunate Death

After a man in China had died from the hantavirus (HPS), the disease has gone viral. Making some panic, thinking this is another strain of the coronavirus.
Zahrah A
25 March 2020

A man in Yunnan, China has tested positive for the hantavirus a couple of days ago. The man unfortunately died on his way to the Shandong Province for work on the bus ride there. 32 additional people have been tested for the virus.

After this man's death, the hantavirus became viral online as people were afraid of the disease being another form of COVID-19. As the Coronavirus is still infecting people in China, their fear is understandable.

How is the hantavirus caught?

The hantavirus is caused by rodents. The CDC says that each hantavirus serotype has a specific rodent host species. It is spread to humans due to the virus being aerosolized through the rodents urine, faeces and saliva. Less frequently, the disease could be spread through a bite from the rodent.

The main variations of the hantavirus that can cause HPS (Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome) is located in the US. This strain is named the 'Sin Nombre virus'. This strain is spread by the deer mouse. As well as this, there was also a case in India in 2008 and 2016. In 2008, the Irulas, a group of snake and rat catchers, caught the disease. In 2016 a 12-year-old had unfortunately died of the infection.

Symptoms of the hantavirus


HPS (Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome) has a small incubation period. This is the period of time from when you've caught the infections to when you actually presenting symptoms. Symptoms will deliver over the time period of 1 - 8 weeks.

Early symptoms include: fever greater than 101◦F, fatigue and muscle aches. Other symptoms include: headaches, dizziness, chills, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. The muscle aches usually occur in large muscle groups such as the hips, back and shoulders.

Treatments for HPS (Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome)

There is no specific treatment for the hantavirus. If the virus is caught early and the patient receives treatment in the ICU, they will likely improve. The treatment in the ICU mainly consists of intubation, oxygen therapy, fluid replacement and medications to support blood pressure.

In very severe cases, antiviral drugs are used to treat some of the hantavirus strains and similar infections. However, there has been no large drug trials as of yet that have proven them to work.

How to prevent the disease

  • Seal holes and cracks that rodents could use to gain entry into your work home. You could use cement or other patching material to seal holes.
  • You could also identify potential nesting sites. You may want to leave this to pest control though. If you want to do it yourself you must have some form of protective gear. You must be very careful to make sure you don't end up stirring up the virus. You will want to wet down areas dead rodents and areas where they have been with alcohol, disinfectants or bleach. You then use a towel to remove the debris and mop the area with disinfectant.
  • You will also want to open and aerate any closed rodent infested areas before you work on them.
  • If you have any heavily infested areas, you should bring it to the attention of health officials / pest control.
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