This Deadly Virus Can Easily Be Mistaken for COVID

This Deadly Virus Can Easily Be Mistaken for COVID

( – Many of us have gotten so caught up in the pandemic that it might as well be the only disease threatening public health. When severe symptoms pop up, the first reaction is to rule out COVID-19 — and we’re likely to feel a lot less worried if the test repeatedly comes back negative.

Numerous other dangerous viruses are still out there, however. Some, like hantavirus, may have fallen off the radar in many areas, but the threat is still as real as ever. We have the details.

From the Four Corners and Beyond

According to the CDC, hantavirus first became a household name in 1993, when an outbreak occurred in the Four Corners region of the United States. Since then, similar strains have turned up in New York, Florida and California.

Hantavirus isn’t especially common — which is good because it has a 38% overall mortality rate. However, the rodents that carry it can live nearly anywhere in the country, putting most of us at some risk.

Symptoms of Hantavirus

Depending on the strain, hantavirus can cause two major types of symptoms. The Sin Nombre strain, carried by the deer mouse, can occur almost anywhere in the United States. Its symptoms come in two stages.

The first set of symptoms include fever, headache, dizziness, chills, body aches and gastrointestinal distress. About 4-10 days into the illness, patients develop the second set of symptoms — shortness of breath and fluid-filled lungs, which may look a lot like severe COVID-19. Up to 50% of patients who contract Sin Nombre die from pulmonary edema or shock.

The other variant that may sometimes occur in the United States, the Seoul strain, spreads via the domestic rat, which lives nearly everywhere in the world. This strain begins with fever, headache, stomach pain, nausea and blurred vision. Chills, flushing of the face, eye inflammation and rashes may also occur. Later symptoms include leaky blood vessels, low blood pressure, acute shock and acute kidney failure. This strain has a mortality rate of up to 15%.

Staying Vigilant

Because symptoms of the Sin Nombre strain might easily be mistaken for COVID-19, people must remember hantavirus could also be lurking nearby. Just because a person tests negative for both COVID-19 and the flu, doesn’t mean they’re necessarily in the clear. Regardless of what the go-to tests say, treat all serious illnesses with the urgency they deserve.

Reduce the chances of contracting hantavirus by keeping the home free of rodents and debris. We can catch the virus from contact with rodent feces, urine or saliva; we can also breathe in airborne particles after sweeping up dried rodent droppings. Rodent bites may be another potential source of infection. Eliminate deer mice and rats from homes by keeping all food adequately sealed and stored away and making sure the home is free of potential nesting areas and materials.

Hantavirus might not be as widespread as COVID-19, but it causes similar symptoms and can be just as deadly. Because so many of us have the pandemic on our minds, we might allow tunnel vision to take hold if COVID-like symptoms arise. Although it’s rare, it can occur nearly anywhere. Be aware of the symptoms and remember that more is out there than the pandemic alone.

~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!

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