Brace yourself disaster fans, because The Internet is alight with news that a new virus, the Hantavirus, has started killing people.
Reports from China suggest that a man in the Yuhan province has died after testing positive for the virus.
The China Global Times tweeted that "A person from Yunnan Province died while on his way back to Shandong Province for work in a charted bus on Monday. He was tested positive for hantavirus. The 32-other people on the bus were tested"
According to the Centre for Disease Control, hantaviruses are a family of viruses, mainly spread by rodents, that “can cause varied disease syndromes in people worldwide”
First off, let’s say that the hantavirus is not specific to China.
Hantaviruses are split into two groups: “New World”, from the Americas, and Old World found in Europe and Asia.
New World hantaviruses may cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) “a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease”.
Old World hantaviruses may cause Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome (HFRS) a group of similar illnesses with between a 1 and 15 per cent mortality rate, depending on which specific illness someone contracts.
However, let’s not start panicking just yet. Currently, there are no known cases (in America) where HPS has been passed from human to human. Human to human HFRS cases are also “extremely rare”.
Instead, says the CDC, “scientists believe that people may be able to get the virus if they touch [or eat] something that has been contaminated with rodent urine, droppings, or saliva, and then touch their nose or mouth.”
Rodent bites can also transmit the virus but this type of transmission is rare.
Early HPS symptoms include “fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups—thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders.”
The disease has a mortality rate of 38 per cent.
HFRS and HPS can be prevented through rodent control, which means keeping rodents out of your house and avoiding rodent urine, faeces, saliva and anything they nest with (fine by us).