A Colorado woman who thought she had COVID-19 because of her coronavirus symptoms ended up having another rare virus — the hantavirus.
What is hantavirus, you ask? That was the same thing I said when I read it.
Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control, hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents and can cause varied disease syndromes in people worldwide. Infection with any hantavirus can produce hantavirus disease in people.
Hantaviruses in the Americas are known as “New World” hantaviruses and may cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS).
Other hantaviruses, known as “Old World” hantaviruses, are found mostly in Europe and Asia and may cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is an infectious disease characterized by flu-like symptoms that can progress rapidly to potentially life-threatening breathing problems.
Much like the flu-like symptoms you see with the coronavirus COVID-19, you can see why it could easily be confused.
Several types of hantaviruses can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. They are carried by several types of rodents, particularly the deer mouse.
You become infected primarily by breathing air infected with hantaviruses that are shed in rodent urine and droppings.
Symptoms of Hantavirus
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome advances through two distinct stages. In the first stage, you may experience flu-like signs and symptoms that may include:
-Fever and chills
-Headaches and muscle aches
-Vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain
In its early stages, hantavirus infection is difficult to distinguish from influenza, pneumonia or other viral conditions. After four to 10 days, more-serious signs and symptoms begin. They typically include:
-A cough that produces secretions
-Shortness of breath
-Fluid accumulating within the lungs
-Low blood pressure
-Reduced heart efficiency
When to see a doctor
The signs and symptoms of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome can worsen suddenly and may quickly become life-threatening.
If you’ve been around rodents or rodent droppings and have signs and symptoms of fever, chills, muscle aches or any difficulties breathing, seek immediate medical attention.
Sue Ryan, the woman who contracted the hantavirus, visited the hospital several times in October after she had severe symptoms that were similar to COVID-19.
Her symptoms included high fever and headaches. She also had fluid around her lungs and her heart, she told KDVR.
She tested negative for the novel coronavirus. But