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What you need to know about Hanta Virus

What is it

Hanta Virus  is a family of diseases mainly spread by rodents particularly the deer mouse in the U.S. and each hantavirus has a specific rodent host species.

Different rodents that carry the Hanta Virus include:

cotton rat:

It has a bigger body than the deer mouse.Its fur is longer and coarser and grayish-brow or grayish-black in colour. The Hanta Virus strain present in the cotton rat is Black Creek Canal virus.

Deer Mouse:

In color, the deer mouse ranges from grey to reddish brown, depending on age. The underbelly is always white and the tail has clearly defined white sides. The hantavirus strain present in deer mice is Sin Nombre(SNV)

Rice rat:

It has short, soft, grayish-brown fur on top, and gray or tawny underbellies. Their feet are whitish.The hantavirus strain present in the rice rat is Bayou virus (BAYV).

White footed mouse:

Its tail is normally shorter than the body. Its top fur ranges from pale to reddish brown, while its underside and feet are white. The virus strain present in the white-footed mouse is New York virus (NYV).

Transmission:

  • Airborne transmission. Rodents shed the virus in their urine, droppings, and saliva containing the virus and when stirred up,tiny droplets get into the air. The virus is then transmitted to people when they breathe contaminated air.
  • If a rodent with the virus bites someone, the virus may be spread to that person.However,this type of transmission is rare.
  • Scientists believe that 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.
  • Scientists also suspect people can become sick if they eat food contaminated by urine, droppings, or saliva from an infected rodent.
  • The virus cannot be transmitted from one person.

Signs and Symptoms:

Early Symptoms include

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches especially in the large muscle groups;thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders

There may also be

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Chills
  • Abdominal problems such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain
  • Blurred Vision

Late Symptoms

Four to 10 days after the initial phase of illness, the late symptoms of HPS appear. These include coughing and shortness of breath, with the sensation of, as one survivor put it, a “tight band around my chest and a pillow over my face” as the lungs fill with fluid.

The virus can be fatal and has a mortality rate of 38%

Treatment:

There is no specific treatment for hantavirus infection. The earlier infected individuals are recognized and brought in to intensive care, the better. Here, patients are incubated and given oxygen therapy to help them through any severe respiratory distress.

Those with HFRS (hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome) may also be hooked up to IVs to manage their fluids and electrolytes, and require dialysis in extreme cases.

However,ribavirin may be a drug for HPS and HFRS but its effectiveness remains unknown

 Vaccine:

As of 2016, there is no FDA-approved, commercially available vaccine against hantavirus. A vaccine known as Hantavax has been under study since 1990. As of 2016, the development was in clinical, phase 3, trial stage.

Prevention

  • Eliminate or minimize contact with rodents in your home, workplace, or campsite.
  • Seal up holes and gaps in your home or garage
  • Place traps in and around your home to decrease rodent infestation
  • Clean up any easy-to-get food
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