A MAN died on a bus in China after contracting hantavirus – from a rat, it’s reported.
The patient, from Yunnan Province, southwestChina, was on his way to work when he reportedly fell ill.
According to the Global Times, tweeted to say that the man had tested positive for hantavirus.
A person from Yunnan Province died while on his way back to Shandong Province for work on a chartered bus on Monday. He was tested positive for #hantavirus. Other 32 people on bus were tested. pic.twitter.com/SXzBpWmHvW
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) March 24, 2020
But experts have been quick to point out that it is not a new disease and it cannot spread between humans.
Hantavirus is found in rodents and only passes to humans if someone ingests their bodily fluids – such as urine, faeces or saliva.
It’s very rarely passed through a bite, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The man, who worked for an aquatic food company in East China’s Shandong Province, fell ill when passing through Ningshan county and died at 7am on Monday.
He also testednegative for coronavirus, local media reported in a tweet now shared more than 15,000 times.
The other 32 people travelling on the same bus were tested and no other cases were reported, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
A special team has been dispatched to Ningshan county for a response and people are being screened for the disease.
Samples of an additional two people with fever and other people accompanying the man have been submitted for testing, it said.
What is hantavirus?
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hantavirus pathogens are mainly spread between rodents.
In very rare cases, the disease can be passed to humans and cause varied disease syndromes.
These include hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).
The CDC said: “Each hantavirus serotype has a specific rodent host species and is spread to people via aerosolised virus that is shed in urine, feces, and saliva, and less frequently by a bite from an infected host.”
Dr Sumaiya Shaikh, a Swedish scientist, tweeted: “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. Please do not panic, unless you plan to eat rats.”
While hantavirus is rare, it carries a 38 per cent death rate according to the CDC.
What are the symptoms of hantavirus and how does it spread?
People infected by hantavirus will show symptoms including fever, bleeding and kidney damage, according to experts from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The incubation period of hantavirus is usually seven to 14 days, with rare cases showing symptoms as short as four days or as long as two months.
Early symptoms include exhaustion, vomit and reddish cheeks.
Humans can contract the hantavirus from infected rodents, who are either wild or pets.
People can also contract it from a rodent’s feces or urine or via contact with the eyes, nose or mouth.
People can also be infected by a bite by infected rodents.
There has been no direct person-to-person transmissions so far reported, according to media reports.
In China, vaccines for the hantavirus have been available for nearly 20 years, and taking vaccines is seen as the most effective way to prevent the infection.
China has vaccine programs in place for hantavirus in high-risk regions.
Although countries across the globe are on high alert because of coronavirus, there is no indication the hantavirus poses a threat to public health.