The virus starts out causing flu-like symptoms, including headache, fever, muscle ache, shortness of breath and cough, and can lead to severe breathing difficulties and death.
The incubation period for the virus is typically two to four weeks after exposure, with a range between a few days and six weeks.
More than a third of cases are fatal!
There is no cure for hantavirus.
People can be infected by breathing contaminated air from infected rodents feces, urine and saliva, or by eating contaminated food or touching contaminated surfaces.
Reuters reports that some 10,000 people may be at risk or infected with the hantavirus, spread from tent cabins at Yosemite National Park in California which were evidently infected with the deadly virus.
Issues of pandemic are often overlooked or ‘out of mind’. Most people never consider the very real possibility of a rapid and very deadly outbreak of a highly contagious virus. Since it has not happened in a severe way during our lifetime, we assume that it will never happen. Looking back in history, it has been extremely devastating to world population.
Although this outbreak of hantavirus may not be the type to set back world population (it apparently does not spread between humans – only via the infected source and affected ‘air’), it should serve as a reminder that we ARE vulnerable to deadly pandemics. Think about how you could be prepared for an outbreak. How would you avoid it, and what would you need to be able to successfully do so?
The answer is ‘fairly’ simple. Avoid people (and / or the source). This means staying isolated (in your home). Which in turn means having enough supplies to survive for a period of time long enough for it to ‘blow over’. Months? Probably. What if it becomes so bad that the power goes out from a lack of maintenance and human intervention? Other utilities? You never know…
There are lots of things to consider regarding pandemic preparedness. Let this current CDC warning regarding the potential infection of 10,000 people with hantavirus and the associated possibility that more than 3,000 of them could die… be a lesson or a wake-up call.