The wrath of unseen - Chinese viruses and possibly upcoming pandemics in 2020
Coronavirus has infected nearly 1.2 crore people and has caused death to around 5.5 lakh people. In India, the number of cases are over 7 lakh and the death toll is at around 20500.
For the world which is already living in the psychological trauma of coronavirus induced pandemic, movement restrictions, social and emotional distancing from their loved ones, any news of a new pathogen with pandemic potential surfacing will be another jolt to their already half-dead enthusiasm. But, China, as usual, has again surprised the world with several new pathogens with alleged pandemic potential.
The most recent of these is Bubonic Plague also known as the black death. In the 1300s bubonic plague killed around 50% of the population of Europe with a death toll of 50 million. It has also spread in India during 1896 and it spread since then. More than 1 crore people succumbed to this plague in India. This plague led to the formation and enforcement of the Epidemic Act, 1897 which has been invoked by the government of India during the coronavirus pandemic.
This virus has been found in Bayannur, a city in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. The region has announced a level 3 warning which will continue till the end of this year.
The bubonic plague is a bacterial illness transmitted by fleas and rodents and is caused by a bacteria called Yersinia Pestis. Although the bubonic plague is not known to have transmitted from human to human, it’s another form, pneumonic plague, which hit India in 1994, can transfer to cough droplets. The bubonic plague has a mortality rate of 30% to 60% but it can be significantly lowered if proper medical attention is given to the infected persons. The pneumonic plague can have a mortality rate of 100% if not taken care of it.
Another virus which was found very recently with pandemic potential in China is G4 EA H1N1 Swine Flu virus. This virus has been found in pigs in China and it has jumped from pigs to humans through zoonosis. This is a new strain of the earlier discovered H1N1 Swine Flu virus which caused the 2010 pandemic that’s why scientists are more scared of its outbreak. The good news is that till today there have been no cases of human to human transfer in China as per their reports. Earlier in the case of coronavirus also, China claimed that there is no human to human transfer.
The scientists have shown their concerns regarding this virus and advocated that it should be immediately controlled as the world is not ready for another pandemic. The initial symptoms include but are not limited to cough, fever, body pain. Chinese Government has assured the world that they will take measures to prevent any virus outbreak. As per some claims around 10% of the pig farm workers have been infected by this virus and to inform the readers, we are looking at more than a lakh of people who have already been infected.
While there exists a vaccine for H1N1 Swine Flu and also a medicine for infected ones, there exists no vaccine or treatment for the new strain. Scientists have said that there exists almost no immunity in most of humanity against this virus.
The third virus which has been discovered in China is Hantavirus. This virus was first discovered in Yunnan Province of China. Hantavirus is a family of viruses which cause various diseases including Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). This disease is not airborne, it only spreads if a person comes in contact with urine, faeces or saliva of an infected rodent. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, muscle pain, headache, dizziness, chills and abdominal pain. This virus has a mortality rate of 38% as per CDC, USA.
There exists a vaccine for the Hantavirus and people to people transmission is extremely rare. There is another way to control the outbreak by controlling the population of rodents.
China has been the originating point of various viruses with pandemic potential in the recent history be it Bubonic Plague, SARS, Coronavirus Pandemic and now G4 EA H1N1 Swine Flu virus. It is high time that Chinese people and their establishment investigate their pandemic gifting nature and let the world stay safe and secure.
The citizens of the world also need to be aware of these viruses when they surface and take the necessary precautions to keep themselves safe and sound and minimise their chances of being infected.
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