After the reports of death from hantavirus in China emerged, netizens frantically started searching about the disease amid an already health crisis due to the novel coronavirus. Apart from the fact that both are viruses, there is a huge difference in their nature, symptoms, carriers, and threat to lives.
While hantavirus belongs to the family of viruses carried mainly by rodents, the original carrier of the coronavirus is still disputed but several experts have claimed that bats can be the primary carrier. Anyone can be infected with hantavirus if exposed to rodent urine, saliva, or droppings or by touching mouth or nose after handling contaminated materials.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hantavirus can cause Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) and Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome (HFRS). The symptoms of hantavirus infection are generally headache, joint and lower back pain, nausea and vomiting. The primary symptom is difficulty in breathing, which is caused by fluid build-up in the lungs, and which quickly progresses to an inability to breathe.
However, the novel coronavirus is a new strain in the large family of coronaviruses (CoV) which was previously not identified in humans. The virus causes COVID-19 with symptoms of dry cough, high fever, joint pain and other respiratory issues. The major difference between hantavirus and coronavirus is that the former causes no human to human transmission unlike the latter.
The symptoms of HPS usually appear within 2-4 weeks of exposure but it can appear as early as 1 week or as late as 6 weeks after infection. There has not been any specific cure for hantavirus infection but if the disease is recognised at the early stage, the patient can get better by receiving medical care in an intensive care unit (ICU).
On the other hand, the symptoms of coronavirus appear within 2 to 14 days and no specific cure has been found for the disease. However, doctors are using a combination of drugs and there has been anecdotal evidence to cure the COVID-19 patients using such combination.
The mortality rate of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is 36 per cent and the transmission risk of the disease is negligible. In the case of coronavirus, the mortality rate of the virus is comparatively very low, around 2 per cent, but the virus is highly contagious.