A man in China died from hantavirus, a completely different virus from coronavirus, according to state-run Global Times in a tweet on Monday.
The male passenger died on a bus in China. He tested positive for hantavirus, but experts clarify that this is not the same with COVID-19, which produces similar symptoms but is more fatal.
The victim, whose name has not been released, was from Yunnan province. He was riding a chartered bus and headed to his office in Shandong province.
“He was tested positive for #hantavirus. Other 32 people on bus were tested,” the outlet stated without adding more details.
However, #hantavirus started trending on social media and sparked panic among users as China begins lifting its strict quarantines from COVID-19.
However, experts emphasized that hantavirus is not a new virus and hardly passed between humans.
“The #Hantavirus first emerged in 1950s in the American-Korean war in Korea (Hantan river). It spreads from rat/mice if humans ingest their body fluids. Human-human transmission is rare,” Swedish scientist Dr. Sumaiya Shaikh stated in a Tweet.
“Please do not panic, unless you plan to eat rats,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said hantavirus is not common, but the death rate is at 38 percent. Symptoms could be experienced up to eight weeks “after exposure to fresh urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents,” the CDC explains, adding that bites from infected rats or mice could be a source.
However, the symptoms in many ways are similar to those of the novel coronavirus, such as headache, fever, coughing, and shortness of breath.
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome
A patient compared it to “a tight band around my chest and a pillow over my face,” the CDC said.
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome was described as a “nationally notifiable disease” in the US in 1995, but there was no evidence of transmission between people, CDC states.
“In Chile and Argentina, rare cases of person-to-person transmission have occurred” in the case of one strand named Andes virus, the CDC adds.
“There is no specific treatment, cure, or vaccine for hantavirus infection,” the health group pointed out, explaining that patients need intensive care to “help them through the period of severe respiratory distress.”
“Therefore, if you have been around rodents and have symptoms of fever, deep muscle aches, and severe shortness of breath, see your doctor immediately,” the experts warn.