Did COVID-19 have a copycat?

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — The disturbing news came from China this week – a hantavirus killed a person there, and rodents are its carriers. On the Internet, they immediately started talking about the beginning of the epidemic of another zoonotic disease.

The virus in question is much more dangerous than SARS-CoV-2. But he will not be able to launch an epidemic.

Everything happened in Shaanxi province. This region borders Hubei Province, from where the coronavirus began to spread. According to local media reports, a man who came to work from the south of the Middle Kingdom died right on the bus. Of course, the deceased and the remaining passengers were immediately checked for –°OVID-19, but the test gave a negative result. To the surprise of the doctors, it turned out that another pathogen became the cause of death .

Hantavirus, like SARS-CoV-2, belongs to enveloped RNA viruses. The main carrier is rodents. The diseases that cause the various subtypes of hantavirus vary greatly depending on the region. In Europe and Asia and in Russia, rats and field mice spread the pathogen. In humans, it causes hemorrhagic fever.

First, the temperature rises – up to 39-41 degrees. Then intoxication of the whole organism develops, resulting in serious damage to the kidneys. Mortality ranges from 1 to 10 percent. That is, under certain conditions, it is even higher than that of a coronavirus infection.

But even more dangerous are the hantaviruses common in America. There are at least 13 species, and they provoke the so-called hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome. And by the way, it is very easy to confuse it with COVID-19. The incubation period, on average, is slightly longer, but the symptoms are almost one to one. Fever, cough, hypoxemia, gradually developing diseases of the lungs and cardiovascular system. And most importantly, every second infected person dies as a result. That is, this disease is worse than the plague and is comparable to Ebola.

The calculations are based on several major outbreaks in the United States over the past 30 years.

However, experts say: you should not be afraid of another epidemic for several reasons. Firstly, hantaviruses have been and still remain exclusively animal viruses. We are not interested in them. People become infected mainly through pairs of rodent excrement or through bites. Moreover, the pathogen is not transmitted from person to person. Secondly, even if in theory the virus learns to do this, it will not catch humanity by surprise, as SARS-CoV-2 did.

“This is not some kind of threat, not some unusual supernova virus. Hantaviruses are very much involved in terms of epidemiology and in terms of determining the infection sources of infection, that is, animals. Control, what zoologists do, in Russia they are anti-plague stations “, – explained the head of the department of infectious diseases of RUDN University Galina Kozhevnikova.

In general, the news of a worker from China would hardly have scattered around the world if it had not been for the coronavirus pandemic. Over the past 5 years, almost one and a half thousand cases of human infection with hantavirus have been recorded only in the deceased’s native Yunnan. Alas, this happens in Russia too. In our country, the pathogen is found, for example, in the Volga region, in the Southern Urals, Altai and the Far East. Several thousand people are infected each year.


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The article is written and prepared by our foreign editors from different countries around the world – material edited and published by Ordo News staff in our US newsroom press.