As the world battles coronavirus, fresh case of deadly hantavirus reported in China:All you need to know

China’s Global Times said the man from Yunnan Province died while on his way back to Shandong Province for work on a bus on Monday.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to create panic across the world, a man from China has tested positive for hantavirus, creating fear of the spread of another virus.

In a tweet on Tuesday, China’s Global Times said the man from Yunnan Province died while on his way back to Shandong Province for work on a bus on Monday. The 32 other people on the bus were also tested for the hantavirus, a disease carried by rats and other rodents.

This comes as COVID-19 or the coronavirus disease is spreading across the world at an even higher rate. There are currently over 387,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the death toll is above 16,700 most of which have been reported from Italy.

It is worth noting that hantavirus is not a new virus and has existed for decades with cases popping up in different parts of the world every now and then.

What is hantavirus

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents and can cause varied disease syndromes in people worldwide.  Infection with any hantavirus can produce hantavirus disease in people. 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 hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS), according to the CDC.

Each hantavirus serotype has a specific rodent host species and is spread to people via an aerosolised virus that is shed in urine, faeces, and saliva, and less frequently by a bite from an infected host. It is usually transmitted through contact with infected rat droppings or saliva of infected rodents.

The most important hantavirus in the United States that can cause HPS is the Sin Nombre virus, spread by the deer mouse.

The virus causes a viral respiratory disease and the early symptoms include headaches, dizziness, fever, nausea, diarrhoea and stomach pain. These are followed by the sudden onset of severe respiratory symptoms.

The fatality rate of hantavirus can reach 35-50%, much higher than the coronavirus. There is no treatment, cure or vaccine for hantavirus infection.

Last known outbreak of hantavirus

The last major outbreak of hantavirus was in Argentina last year when 11 people died in the south Ameican nation following which the World Health Organization (WHO) had issued a warning.

In January 2019, after the reports of the outbreak, the WHO had said that 29 cases of the disease were confirmed with laboratory tests between late October 2018 and January 20, 2019. Almost 60% of those infected with the virus were women or girls, the WHO said.

While the disease spreads from rats, human-to-human transmission has not been ruled out.