Taiwan reports first hantavirus infection of 2023

Taiwan reported its first hantavirus infection of 2023, involving a woman living in central Taiwan, according to a press statement released by the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Friday.

The reported case was a 30-something woman, who did not travel recently and spent most of her time at her place of work and home, the CDC said, adding that she was thought to have contracted the disease through contact with rodent waste.

Lo Yi-chun (???), deputy director general of the CDC, said in a phone interview that the patient's job involved feeding white mice, which had tested negative for hantaviruses.

The CDC, therefore, believes the woman contracted the disease through exposure to the waste of wild rodents, given she lived near farmland, Lo said.

The woman began displaying symptoms including fever and stomachache on Jan. 15, and saw the doctor on Jan. 16. The symptoms did not recede, however, and she was diagnosed as having a hantavirus infection after anomalies were found in her platelets and liver later.

The CDC said the woman was in stable condition after responding positively to treatment and was discharged from the hospital, while two out of nine of her close contacts had developed fevers.

The infected woman had previously tested negative last November after a family member developed hantavirus syndrome, the CDC added.

Hantaviruses -- which humans contract via contact with rodents, including by getting bitten and inhaling or touching the mice's excrement or secretions -- can lead to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a potentially fatal lung disease.

The latent period of the virus varies from a few days to two months, and its most common symptoms include a headache, stomachache and nausea, according to the CDC.

The best protection is to prevent rodents from entering one's home, the CDC said.

According to the CDC's data, Taiwan recorded five hantavirus cases in 2022 and 41 since 2011, of which one was imported, 30 involved males, with 29 aged 40 years old or above.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel