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HANTA Virus | History | Vector and Spread

Introduction:

Hanta Virus

China has reported the death of a person from Yunnan Province who tested positive for the Hantavirus.

What is Hanta virus ?

  • The Hanta virus are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents. It is contracted by humans from infected rodents.
  • Cases of the Hanta virus in humans occur mostly in rural areas where forests, fields and farms offer suitable habitat for infected rodents.
  • A person can get infected if he/she comes in contact with a rodent that carries the virus.
  • In the US and Canada, for instance, the Hantavirus carried by the deer mouse is responsible for the majority cases of the Hantavirus infection.
  • Like this, there are various other kinds of Hantaviruses that find hosts in rodents, like the white-footed mouse and the cotton rat among others that may lead to infections in humans if transmitted.

History:

  • Hantavirus was originally discovered in Asia during the Korean War. 
  • The actual virus was not isolated until 20 years later, in 1976. 
  • It was discovered in a striped field mouse near the Hantan River in South Korea.
  • Hence the prototype was christened the Hantan virus.
  • They were first detected in May 1993 in southwestern United States. 
  • Hantaviruses in the Americas are known as “New World” Hantaviruses.
  • Others are known as “Old World” Hantaviruses and are found mostly in Europe and Asia.
  • They are about a hundredth the size of bacteria. 
  • They are also an RNA virus just like SARS-CoV-2 (the novel corona virus).

Vector and Spread:

Hantavirus is spread from several species of rodents in their urine, droppings, and saliva. It is thought that transmission occurs when they breathe in air contaminated with the virus. There is no human to human transmission, except for one virus, the Andes Virus, which spreads between people. 

According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports:

  • If a rodent with the virus bites someone, the virus may be spread to that person, but this type of transmission is rare;
  • People may be able to get the virus if they touch something that has been contaminated with rodent urine, droppings, or saliva, and then touch their nose or mouth;
  • It is suspected that people can become sick if they eat food contaminated by urine, droppings, or saliva from an infected rodent.
  • Hantavirus infections are prevalent all over the world, except for Australia from where no cases have been reported so far. South America sees the highest incidences of cases, followed by North America.

Hanta Virus

Symptoms:

  • A person infected with the virus may show symptoms within the first to eighth week after they have been exposed to fresh urine, faeces or the saliva of infected rodents.
  • Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, chills and abdominal problems.
  • Four to ten after being infected, late symptoms of HPS may start to appear, which include coughing and shortness of breath.

Mortality risk:

  • It is the cause of Hantavirus pulmonary disease (HPS), a severe respiratory disease. The HPS can be fatal and has a mortality rate of 38 per cent.
  • It remains unclear whether human-to-human transmission of the virus is possible.
  • There have been no reports of human-to-human transmission of Hantavirus in the US.