The reported death due to hantavirus in China has resulted in misleading messages on social media where people started speculating another pandemic like the novel coronavirus. Hantavirus is a family of viruses which can cause Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) and Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome (HFRS) and can be fatal, the danger is nowhere close to the current pandemic.
First of all, no human to human transmission has been reported in the case of hantavirus while coronavirus is highly contagious and spreading rapidly across the world. According to the latest figures, over 19,500 deaths have been reported across the globe with more than 4.36 lakh confirmed cases.
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. 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 but 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. It has now taken shape of a pandemic which has paralysed the global economy and the uncertainty around its suppression is still worrying.