Source: The Hindu
Manifest pedagogy: Hantavirus is not new to the world. But any new strain of an old virus has to be looked at with a caution, thanks to COVID-2019. Even for CSE aspirants it is important to study all these viruses and their new strains.
In news: Recently a man from Yunnan Province of China was tested positive and died due to Hantavirus.
Placing it in syllabus: Microorganisms
- Vector and Spread
Content: “Orthohantavirus” – commonly known as hantavirus is a very rare virus. The last two reported confirmed cases worldwide were in Bolivia and Argentina.
It is in a class of diseases called zoonoses, meaning it is a virus transmitted from animals to humans. In this case, the animal in question is rodents (usually rats).
- Hantavirus was originally discovered in Asia during the Korean War.
- The actual virus was not isolated until 20 years later, in 1976.
- It was discovered in a striped field mouse near the Hantan River in South Korea.
- Hence the prototype was christened the Hantaan virus.
- They were first detected in May 1993 in southwestern United States.
- Hantaviruses in the Americas are known as “New World” hantaviruses.
- Others are known as “Old World” hantaviruses and are found mostly in Europe and Asia.
- They are about a hundredth the size of a bacteria.
- They are also an RNA virus just like SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus).
Vector and Spread:
Hantavirus is spread from several species of rodents in their urine, droppings, and saliva. It is thought that transmission occurs when they breathe in air contaminated with the virus. There is no human to human transmission, except for one virus, the Andes Virus, which spreads between people.
According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports:
- If a rodent with the virus bites someone, the virus may be spread to that person, but this type of transmission is rare;
- 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;
- It is suspected that people can become sick if they eat food contaminated by urine, droppings, or saliva from an infected rodent.
Hantavirus infections are prevalent all over the world, except for Australia from where no cases have been reported so far. South America sees the highest incidences of cases, followed by North America.
- Hantaviruses can cause Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, which is an infectious disease characterised by flu-like symptoms.
- It can progress rapidly to potentially life-threatening breathing problems.
- The most damage is observed in the lung, spleen and gallbladder.
- It can also cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome.
- There are dozens of types of hantaviruses, the majority of which do not cause disease in humans.
Understanding the mechanism of infection has been challenging as hantavirus doesn’t seem to cause the disease in the animals that it infects. There are a number of vaccine candidates currently undergoing trial.