• Hantavirus is a deadly group of viruses usually spread between animals
  • It transfers to humans via contact with rodent feces or through contaminated air
  • READ MORE: My beloved Yorkshire Terrier died from mystery new dog disease

A man in Arkansas has been infected with a deadly virus carried by rats — months after scientists in the state discovered a brand new strain.

The patient, from Little Rock, was diagnosed with hantavirus, a family of viruses that kill around 38 percent of patients and spread via rodent droppings.

It is the first time the illness has been confirmed in a person in Arkansas. Testing is underway to find the exact strain he has been infected with.

It comes after researchers from the University of Arkansas discovered a never-before-seen variant they said could be one of ‘the most dangerous’ yet.

The team named it the Ozark virus after finding it in hispid cotton rats in the Ozarks during the pandemic.

The virus can transfer to humans via contact with rodent feces and breathing in air contaminated with steam from rodent feces

The virus can transfer to humans via contact with rodent feces and breathing in air contaminated with steam from rodent feces

A man from Little Rock was diagnosed with hantavirus, a family of viruses that kill around 38 percent of patients and spread via rodent droppings. It comes after researchers from the University of Arkansas discovered a never-before-seen variant they said could be one of 'the most dangerous' yet. The team named it the Ozark virus after finding it in hispid cotton rats in the Ozarks during the pandemic

A man from Little Rock was diagnosed with hantavirus, a family of viruses that kill around 38 percent of patients and spread via rodent droppings. It comes after researchers from the University of Arkansas discovered a never-before-seen variant they said could be one of ‘the most dangerous’ yet. The team named it the Ozark virus after finding it in hispid cotton rats in the Ozarks during the pandemic

Every year, roughly 300 Americans catch hantaviruses, and fatality rates can reach up to 60 percent

Every year, roughly 300 Americans catch hantaviruses, and fatality rates can reach up to 60 percent

No details have been revealed about the Little Rock patient, but DailyMail.com has contacted the state’s health department for more information. 

About 800 Americans are sickened by the disease every year with 300 fatalities also recorded, according to estimates. 

Lead researcher Nathaniel Mull, who discovered the Ozark virus in 2021, told local media last week about the find when news emerged about the latest infection.

‘I was going out and catching rodents with the goal of finding out what hantaviruses they were infected with,’ he told THV11. ‘So I didn’t expect to find a new one in them.

‘Those might even be the most dangerous ones because we’re not aware of what they carry or where they’re at at any given time.’

Kristian Forbes, who has been researching the disease at the University of Arkansas, told THV11: ‘It looks like severe flu that may develop into symptoms or complications with the heart and lungs.’

When a human is infected with a hantavirus, they can develop a disease called Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. 

About one to eight weeks after infection, patients usually suffer fever, sore muscles, headaches, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.

Four to ten days later, the disease progresses to shortness of breath and a sensation like a ‘tight band around the chest and a pillow over the face,’ as one survivor described it.

The disease attacks blood vessels in the lungs, causing them to leak and fill the lungs with fluid. This can lead to suffocation and death.

Doctors treat the disease using ventilators to ensure patients get enough oxygen and IV drips to ensure they get enough nutrients and remain hydrated. 

Medications may also be administered to help manage the pain, fever and other symptoms. 

Mr Forbes said: ‘There’s no known human-to-human transmission of Hantaviruses so it’s not going to expand into an epidemic or pandemic, but there is still that risk of human disease, isolated cases, potentially clusters of human disease.’

In Chile and Argentina, rare cases of person-to-person transmission have occurred among close contacts of someone ill with a hantavirus called Andes virus. 

There is no specific treatment, cure or vaccine for hantavirus infection.

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