China’s Hantavirus No Cause For Concern

By Ben Hamill - March 26 2020
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China’s Hantavirus No Cause For Concern

As if battling one global pandemic isn’t devastating enough, it now seems as if mankind has another even more deadly viral strain on its hands. Whether or not the new hantavirus is something to be concerned about is still up for debate and its exactly the fear of the unknown in a time already troubled as it is by a global pandemic quickly turning into a global deadlock, that is sparking a new wave of panic on social media.

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It all started with a news report by China’s Global Times on Tuesday. The article that sparked the frenzied reaction reported on the case of a man that had died whilst travelling to work on public transport in the province of Yunnan, China. The man had apparently died of symptoms caused by what is known a member of hantavirus family of viruses. Humans generally contract the virus when coming into close contact with rodents, and specifically, with rodent urine and saliva. The rodents carrying the strain are rodents present in China.

Panic Not Necessary, Says CDC

But according to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control, or CDC, the panic is completely unjustified and obviously based on a coronavirus-reaction and gross lack of information. The hantavirus that had supposedly caused the man’s death cannot be contracted from another human being. The affected party will have to have been in close contact with a rat carrying the virus. The virus is contracted by breathing in contaminated air, which basically requires very close contact with an infected rodent. The virus then causes what is commonly referred to as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, or HPS.

All of the above dictates that the virus is only present in mainland China and isn’t likely to spread behind the country’s borders any time soon. It is not a typical infectious disease.

Confronted By Mortality

What scares people the most about the hantavirus is the mortality rate. The CDC estimates that this may be as high as 36%, as opposed to the coronavirus’ 3.4% mortality rate. What possibly helped spark the panic was that Chinese health officials following the diagnosis of the deceased, proceeded to round up the rest of the passengers present on the bus at the time of the man’s passing.

This sparked the fear that human-to-human infection was in fact possible in the case of whatever it was that the man had contracted. And needless to say, the rumours were all that was needed to spark a global frenzy about the possibility of a virus even more deadly than the coronavirus having now been let loose on the world out of China.

Creating Fake News and Panic

Conspiracy theories suggesting that the coronavirus is in actual fact a virus created on purpose in a lab haven’t helped either. This sparked even more paranoia regarding the possibility that Chinese evil-doers did not stop after one virus and that more were bound to follow, with the hantavirus being next in line.

Some even ventured into positively terrifying territory by posing the question of what would happen if a human being were to contract the two viruses together. We’ve enough panic to handle as it is thanks to covid-19 and humanity certainly does not need yet another deadly pandemic to worry about.

FAQs

How do you become infected with the hantavirus?

Hantavirus is transmitted by rat faeces, saliva, bites or urine.

Is hantavirus contagious?

No. Hantavirus cannot be passed from human to human.

Where is hantavirus found?

Only rats in China have been found to carry the virus strain.

Is hantavirus considered an infectious disease?

No, it is contracted by one person and is not infectious or airborne.

Is hantavirus fatal?

It can be, and it has a 3.4% mortality rate.

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