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What is Hantavirus and How Can You Protect Yourself?

Hantavirus Transmitted by Rodent

What is Hantavirus

Hantaviruses are a virus family spread by rodents that can cause a wide range of diseases in humans all over the world. In the Americas, hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS) is common, whereas hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) is common in Asia and Europe.

The majority of illnesses are caused by direct airborne transmission of rodent excretions, although in Argentina and Chile, person-to-person transmission of the virus occurs. Hantaviruses are a type of negative-stranded RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus, some of which are highly dangerous to humans. Before the epidemic in the United States in 1993, hantavirus-related disorders were assumed to be confined to Europe and Asia.

Closeup of Hantavirus Cells Under a Microscope
Closeup of Hantavirus Cells Under a Microscope

The word hantavirus refers to a genus that includes tens of species or genotypes worldwide; six have been identified in Europe thus far, each with varying degrees of human pathogenicity.

Each hantavirus is associated with a single rodent host species or a group of closely related rodent hosts. Hantaviruses are spreading across Europe, with new areas becoming infected and the incidence of hantaviruses increasing in numerous already endemic areas.

In rats, hantavirus infections are chronic and subclinical, with the virus being shed consistently in the feces and urine. Hantaviruses are zoonotic diseases or illnesses that can be passed from one animal to a human.

What Are the Symptoms of Hantavirus?

Strains typically found in Asia and Europe harm the kidneys and can cause serious respiratory issues.

Patients with hantavirus disease have a wide range of clinical symptoms, ranging from asymptomatic to severe. The incubation time is typically 2–3 weeks, although it can last up to six weeks.

In endemic places, common hantavirus symptoms are an acute fever is accompanied by severe headaches, abdomen and back pains, and no apparent respiratory symptoms.

Fatigue, fever, and muscle aches, especially in the big muscle groups – thighs, hips, back, and even shoulders – are early indications of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, according to the CDC.

These are universal signs and symptoms. Approximately half of all HPS patients have symptoms and the disease is considered to have a 38% death rate.

In May 1993, a hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) outbreak was discovered in the southwestern United States, characterized by an early symptom of fever and myalgia followed by a sudden start of respiratory distress.

From hantavirus-specific RNA recovered from tissues of patients and mice collected at their homes, nearly identical genetic sequences were amplified, providing direct confirmation that the culprit was a previously unknown hantavirus.

How Do You Catch Hantavirus?

Hantavirus disease can be contracted by coming into touch with infected rodent droppings, urine, saliva, nesting materials, or particles from these. The strongest risk factor for infection is exposure to poorly ventilated areas with active rat infestations in homes.

Infection can also be spread by entering infrequently accessed or seasonally closed buildings with rodent activity. Frequent visitors of rural areas and nature resorts, such as campers, hikers, and those who mostly engage in outdoor activities, may also be exposed to the virus.

There is no specific known hantavirus treatment, and because there is no vaccine available yet, the best approach to avoid contracting the hantavirus is to simply stay away from rats.

How to Protect Yourself from Hantavirus?

Rodents can be discouraged from entering your home by caulking cracks and holes, setting traps, excluding your homes, and keeping places as clean and food-free as possible.

Do not remove mouse urine or excrement by using a vacuum, or wondering if Lysol kills hantavirus; this operation may raise the risk of HPS by generating an aerosol. There is no proven disinfectant that kills the hantavirus.

One way that the HPS risk can be lowered is by inactivating hantaviruses in the environment and reducing contact by wearing gloves and a mask. Rodents collected in traps should be treated with the same extra caution. This is why hiring professionals to assist you if you suspect rodents in your home is very important.

Hiring a professional pest control firm like Nextgen Pest Solutions to eliminate your pest problems, particularly rat infestations, is the best option to keep you and your family safe from any threat. Contact us for a free rodent control quote.

Professional pest extermination adheres to a set of guidelines. In some circumstances, rat biology knowledge is required to effectively defend pest control companies against rodent-borne viruses.

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