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Hantavirus kills 12-year-old Mumbai boy: Here's all you need to know about the infection

Mumbai recorded its first-ever case of hantavirus after a 12-year-old boy from Colaba was diagnosed with Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). He succumbed to the infection on Saturday night, reported Hindustan Times.

According to the report, the BMC officials confirmed that the child’s blood tested positive for the virus, however, they are awaiting test results from the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune.

The child, who was admitted to the Bhatia Hospital in Tardeo on 29 September, was bleeding profusely from both lungs. The Times of India quoted the hospital pediatrician V Samdhani as saying that the medical team suspected hantavirus because of the bleeding, as "it is a characteristic associated with hantavirus infection."

What is hantavirus?

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a fatal respiratory disease in humans caused by hantavirus. Anyone exposed to infected rodents, by breathing in the virus when rodent urine and droppings containing the virus are stirred up into the air, can contract the disease.

 Hantavirus kills 12-year-old Mumbai boy: Heres all you need to know about the infection

Illustration of the typical cycle of transmission of hantaviruses. Image courtesy: Public Health Agency of Canada

Although HPS can't be passed on from person to person, touching eyes, nose or mouth after touching rodent droppings, urine, or nesting materials that contain the virus can infect a healthy individual, states Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet.

Symptoms of HPS

Among the early symptoms of the virus include fever, headache, muscle ache, abdominal pain, dizziness, chills and abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. About half of all HPS patients experience these symptoms.

Late symptoms include lungs fill with fluid and shortness of breath.

The Vectors

Deer mouse, cotton rat, rice rat, white-footed mouse are the vectors that can carry the virus.

Treatment for HPS

The fatal disease with 38 percent mortality rate has no specific treatment, cure, or vaccination. If the infection is diagnosed at an early stage and the affected individuals are provided proper medical care in an intensive care unit, the survival chances may be better.

How to prevent HPS?

Basically, rodent-proofing your homes, offices, etc. would help. Cleaning up rodent-infested areas, sealing the holes inside and outside the homes to keep rodents out.

According to experts, though 15-20 percent of deer mice are infected with hantavirus, it's rare for humans to contract the disease, mostly because the virus dies shortly after contact with sunlight, and it can't spread from one person to another.


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Updated Date: Oct 18, 2016 17:58:15 IST