A report of a man dying on Monday (March 23) from another virus in China set off minor panic with it being shared 15,000 times the same day.
The report, in a tweet by China’s Global Times on Tuesday, came just as the country planned to lift the quarantines imposed because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The media outlet reported that the man, who was Yunnan province and was on a chartered bus on the way to work in Shandong province, had tested positive for the Hantavirus, which has symptoms that mirror those of a novel coronavirus — fever, headache, cough and shortness of breath.
“He was tested positive for #hantavirus. Other 32 people on bus were tested,” it tweeted on Tuesday (March 24). It did not give further details.
Experts say Hantavirus is not a new virus. A Swedish scientist, Dr Sumaiya Shaikh, tweeted: “It spreads from rat/mice if humans ingest their body fluids. Human-to-human transmission is rare.”
“Please do not panic, unless you plan to eat rats,” she added.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hantavirus cases are rare and they spread as a result of close contact with rodent urine, droppings or saliva.
A report in usatoday.com on Tuesday did, however, mention that the virus can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a severe respiratory disease that can be fatal. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, muscle ache, headache, dizziness, chills and abdominal problems. Coughing and shortness of breath can occur at a later stage as the lungs fill with liquid. /TISG