The English-language Chinese news outlet Global Times reported on Monday that a man in Yunnan, China died and tested positive for a hantavirus.
This has immediately stirred public concern as many people worry that another pandemic might come as the world grapples with the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Global Times’ tweet: “He was tested positive for #hantavirus. Other 32 people on bus were tested,” has been shared by more than 15,000 times on Twitter alone.
Misleading messages about a coronavirus-like disease has also circulated fast online through WhatsApp and Facebook.
“When the whole world is still suffering from Covid-19, here comes another virus…” one message in WhatsApp reads, according to a UK-based digital news website.
But according to experts, the warnings are “overexaggerated” because hantavirus is not new at all and is not comparable to the new coronavirus.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explained that “hantaviruses are a family of virus that spread through rodents.”
It has already been known for decades but its cases are very rare. The virus is not easily pass between humans as it only spread as a result of close contact with rodents’ bodily fluids like urine, droppings or saliva.
“Rare cases in Chile and Argentina have seen person-to-person transmission when a person is in close contact with someone sickened by a type of hantavirus called Andes virus.” said CDC on its website.
Experts say that despite the fact that hantaviruses are found across the Americas, Europe and Asia, the regions lead to different syndromes and symptoms.
The early symptoms of hantavirus include fatigue, fever and muscle aches and its mortality rate is 38%.