On Monday, Chinese health officials reported that a man died after he was tested positive for hantavirus. However, it does not necessarily mean we should worry about another epidemic.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says hantaviruses are a family of viruses that can spread through rodents.
According to Global Times, the man died on his way back to Shandong Province. The English-language Chinese news agency said, “He was tested positive for #hantavirus. Other 32 people on bus were tested.”
The news about the hantavirus has been shared more than 15,000 times on Twitter amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Currently, there is no indication that the hantavirus could pose a public health threat.
Hantavirus cases are quite rare and spread after coming in close contact with rodent urine, saliva or droppings, according to the CDC.
In the United States, certain kinds of rats and mice can carry the virus, which can be transmitted when you breathe in contaminated air.
The CDC says on its website, “The hantaviruses that cause human illness in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another.”
“Rare cases in Chile and Argentina have seen person-to-person transmission when a person is in close contact with someone sickened by a type of hantavirus called Andes virus,” it adds.
The hantavirus can cause a severe respiratory illness called pulmonary syndrome, which could be fatal. The signs and symptoms include fever, chills, myalgia, headaches, fatigue, and GI problems. In advanced stages, people may have complaints of cough and breathlessness.
In the United States, there were only 728 hantavirus cases between 1993 and 2017. In comparison, the new coronavirus has affected 54,881 and killed 782 so far.