A man who died in China on Monday reportedly tested positive for a form of hantavirus, a virus that is spread through rodents, but experts say that it’s highly unlikely to turn into another pandemic.
“He was tested positive for #hantavirus. Other 32 people on bus were tested,” Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece The Global Times wrote on social media. It said a man from Yunnan Province died while on his way back to Shandong Province. The Twitter post from the Global Times appears to have triggered panic, and it was shared thousands of times in just hours.
But hantavirus cases are quite rare, and they spread as a result of close contact with rodent urine, droppings, or saliva, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some types of mice can carry the virus in the United States, and deaths have been reported in the country.
The virus can also be transmitted when someone breathes in hantavirus-contaminated air. “The hantaviruses that cause human illness in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another,” the CDC says on its website.
In underscoring how rare hantavirus cases are, the CDC notes that as of 2017, only 728 cases “have been reported since surveillance in the United States began in 1993.”
The hantavirus death sparked worry among numerous users on Twitter and other social media websites, coming months after the CCP virus emerged in China, leading to a global pandemic.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China before it was transmitted worldwide.
Experts pointed out on Twitter that it is believed to have only rarely been passed via humans, unlike the coronavirus or influenza.
“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 wrote on Twitter. “Please do not panic, unless you plan to eat rats,” she added
According to the CDC’s website, hantavirus has a case fatality rate of about 36 percent.
“Patients with hantavirus infection typically present in a nonspecific way with a relatively short febrile prodrome lasting 3-5 days. In addition to fever and myalgias, early symptoms include headache, chills, dizziness, non- productive cough, nausea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal symptoms,” the website says.
There have been cases in Chile and Argentina that have seen human-to-human transmission when a person is in close contact with an individual who was infected with the Andes virus, which is a form of hantavirus, according to the CDC, which noted that such cases are also rare.