With only a few cases reported in 10 American states from 1993 to 2018, Hantavirus is a rare but life-threatening disease that affects the respiratory system, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. Infected rodents spread the disease through biting, but you can also catch it by consuming or touching something that has been contaminated with the rodent's urine, saliva, or droppings. Symptoms start off relatively mild, but as the condition develops, they become serious and even fatal. To make matters worse, there is no cure or conclusive diagnosis for this disease, and the mortality rate is a whopping 38%.
Hantavirus usually causes symptoms that are similar to those of the common flu. This condition, however, is much more severe and requires medical attention as soon as possible. Symptoms don't develop right away; in fact, they may take up to four weeks to appear. Initially, a high fever is likely to develop, which is then accompanied by other symptoms, such as a headache or cough.
Once symptoms start to develop, you may experience various aches and pains. Large muscles, such as hips, back, thighs, and shoulders, are more prone to pain, which is often characterized as dull or deep and can get worse over time. If you feel pain and have a fever, go to the doctor immediately.
Fatigue is one of the earlier signs of hantavirus, typically occurring within the first few days following the onset of symptoms. People with fatigue experience excessive tiredness as well as low energy levels. Just like with the flu, being fatigued can make it hard to stay awake and complete daily activities, such as going to work and school or performing daily hygiene. Even if you manage to get plenty of rest, you may continue to feel tired.
People with hantavirus may experience dizziness, which is classified as an early symptom, as it tends to appear within a few weeks of the initial infection. Over half of those infected with hantavirus experience dizziness, which may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as light-headedness, nausea, and vomiting.
Another potential symptom of hantavirus is a headache that tends to be severe in nature and is often described as deep and throbbing, though the level of pain varies. If you develop a headache along with other symptoms over a short period of time, go to the hospital as soon as possible. Hantavirus develops rapidly once symptoms start to appear, making it essential to receive immediate treatment.
In some cases, people with hantavirus experience stomach cramps or localized abdominal pain, as the initial infection can affect the stomach muscles. The cramps are usually intense and temporary, and eating may make the pain worse. To ease the pain, try using a heating pad to relax the spasms or up your intake of electrolytes, which can help with dehydration. But, most importantly, seek medical attention. A number of other health conditions, some of which are serious, can also cause these symptoms.
Hantavirus can cause diarrhea and vomiting, which are an indication that the infection is spreading. These symptoms usually develop during or after the fever and are often associated with abdominal pain. Up to half of all people with hantavirus develop nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, and with repeated episodes, the risk of dehydration increases. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids to replace those that are lost, and seek medical attention, especially if these symptoms are accompanied by dizziness.
People with hantavirus typically develop a cough in the later stages of the disease — four to 10 days after the onset of symptoms. A cough appears because the lungs slowly fill with liquid. By coughing, the body attempts to remove unwanted substances from the lungs or throat.
Shortness of breath is one of the more dangerous symptoms that people with hantavirus can experience. It occurs during the final stages of the infection and is likely to appear at the same time as coughing and vomiting. If it becomes difficult to catch your breath, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
During the later stages of the disease, hantavirus becomes more serious and sometimes even life-threatening. One critical issue is difficulty breathing. Some people describe the feeling as being like a rubber band wrapped tightly around the chest. Liquid fills the lungs quickly and blood pressure and organs can start to fail. It is crucial to seek medical support at, and preferably before, this stage of the disease, as a ventilator may be necessary.
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