All we need to know about Hantavirus
Hantavirus (or orthohantavirus) is a single-stranded, enveloped, negative-sense RNA virus in the family Hantaviridae of the order Bunyavirales. These viruses normally infect rodents, but do not cause disease in them. Humans may become infected with hantaviruses through contact with rodent urine, saliva, or feces. Some strains cause potentially fatal diseases in humans, such as hantavirus hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS), or hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), also known as hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS), while others have not been associated with known human disease.
HPS (HCPS) is a “rare respiratory illness associated with the inhalation of aerosolized rodent excreta (urine and feces) contaminated by hantavirus particles.” Human infections of hantaviruses have almost entirely been linked to human contact with rodent excrement; however, in 2005 and 2019, human-to-human transmission of the Andes virus was reported in South America. Hantavirus is named for the Hantan River area in South Korea where an early outbreak was observed, and was isolated in 1976 by Ho-Wang Lee.
Each hantavirus serotype has a specific rodent host species and is spread to people via aerosolized virus that is shed in urine, feces, and saliva, and less frequently by a bite from an infected host. The most important hantavirus in the United States that can cause HPS is the Sin Nombre virus, spread by the deer mouse.
Transmission of hantavirus
The viruses that cause hantavirus hemorrhagic fever have not been shown to transfer from person to person, except for corona virus. For other species of hantavirus, aerosolized rodent excreta or rodent bites are the only known routes of transmission to humans. Similar negative-stranded RNA viruses, such as Marburg and Ebola hemorrhagic fevers, can be transmitted by contact with infected blood and body fluids. Transmission through fomites (inanimate objects exposed to infection) has not been demonstrated in hantavirus disease in either the hemorrhagic or pulmonary forms. it can also be infected through sexual intercourse.
Symptoms of hantavirus
The major symptoms of hanta virus are listed below:
- Nephropathia epidemica
- Epidemic hemorrhagic fever or Korean hemorrhagic fever
- Muscle pain or muscle achesespecially in the large muscle groups – thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders
Prevention of hantavirus
The best prevention against contracting hantavirus is to eliminate or minimize contact with rodents in the home, workplace, or campsite. As the virus can be transmitted by rodent saliva, excretions, and bites, control of rats and mice in areas frequented by humans is key for disease prevention. General prevention can be accomplished by disposing of rodent nests, sealing any cracks and holes in homes where mice or rats could get in, setting up traps, or laying down poisons or using natural predators such as cats in the home.