Testing negative for Covid19 is definitely good news but a Colorado-based woman was surprised to see her results. Sue Ryan’s case is in mainstream media on how she developed typical covid symptoms after a hiking trip to the Colorado Trail. Initially, she suspected that she has Covid-19 but after her test came negative doctors identified hantavirus in her body, which is even a bigger problem to handle.
In an interview with a local TV station, she told me that she was experiencing severe headache, fever, and wasn’t able to breathe properly. All these are characteristic symptoms of coronavirus but she was surprised to see her negative test report. She was immediately shifted to a hospital after her conditions worsened, where doctors diagnosed her with hantavirus and not Covid-19.
But did she end up having hantavirus and why does it show the same symptoms as in Covid-19? Is Covid-19 a hantavirus?
Well, no. Hantavirus is a different type of virus which is added to the air from the fecal droppings of rodents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports hantavirus’s link with various chronic diseases but in Americans, the hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is the most common. It can also cause a hemorrhagic fever which may show up as ‘hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome’ (HFRS) but it is more common in Asian and European countries.
There have been only two hantavirus outbreaks in the United States. First in 2012 where 10 people who went to Yosemite National Park were tested positive and the second time in 2017 when 17 cases were reported. Earlier this year, one man from China lost his life due to hantavirus. Does this mean Covid-19 and hantavirus have something in common?
The health experts suggest that the symptoms of Covid-19 and hantavirus can sometimes overlap. Amesh A. Adalja, from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says that hantavirus also causes respiratory signs just like coronavirus.
In addition to similar symptoms, hantavirus causes extreme pain in large muscle areas such as thighs and back. CDC reports that it can also cause dizziness, migraine, gastric distress, and chills in a patient.
These symptoms of hantavirus show up within a couple of weeks of being exposed. Additionally, some patients can experience inflammation, pain/redness in the eyes, or skin rashes too.
On the other side, Covid-19 symptoms are different for everyone and there are many people with no symptoms at all.
Apart from these mutual symptoms, both coronavirus and hantavirus have nothing similar. As coronavirus is transmitted directly from an infected person via respiratory droplets, the hantavirus can’t be transmitted directly. It is only spread through the rodent’s droppings, urine, or saliva. These rodents include rice rats, deer mice, and white-foot mice.
This is the first-ever coronavirus pandemic but hantavirus is more prevalent and common than coronavirus. From 1993 to 2017, there are 728 confirmed hantavirus cases reported in the United States. This recent Sue Ryan case is not the first time when hantavirus is identified in Colorado. In fact, there are 151 cases reported from, Colorado to date, and 41 of them lost their lives according to UC Health.