Hantaviruses: Sign, Symptoms, Precautions, Everything You Need to know

Hantavirus mainly spread from the rodents that can be reasoned of various diseases in human, globally. In USA it is known as the New World hantavirus and may cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Other term of virus is the Old World which is found in Europe and Asia that cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS).

Each hantavirus serotype has a specific rodent host species and is spread to people via aerosolized virus that is shed in urine, feces, and saliva, and less frequently by a bite from an infected host. The most important hantavirus in the United States that can cause HPS is the Sin Nombre virus, spread by the deer mouse.

The “First” Outbreak

In May 1993, an outbreak of an unexplained pulmonary illness occurred in the southwestern United States, in an area shared by Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah known as “The Four Corners”. A young, physically fit Navajo man suffering from shortness of breath was rushed to a hospital in New Mexico and died very rapidly.

While reviewing the results of the case, medical personnel discovered that the young man’s fiancée had died a few days before after showing similar symptoms, a piece of information that proved key to discovering the disease. As Dr. James Cheek of the Indian Health Service (IHS) noted, “I think if it hadn’t been for that initial pair of people that became sick within a week of each other, we never would have discovered the illness at all”.

An investigation combing the entire Four Corners region was launched by the New Mexico Office of Medical Investigations (OMI) to find any other people who had a similar case history. Within a few hours, Dr. Bruce Tempest of IHS, working with OMI, had located five young, healthy people who had all died after acute respiratory failure.

Sign and Symptoms

Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome

Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) is a group of clinically similar illnesses caused by species of hantaviruses from the family Hantaviridae. It is also known as Korean hemorrhagic fever, epidemic hemorrhagic fever, and nephropathia epidemica. The species that cause HFRS include Hantaan, Dobrava-Belgrade, Saaremaa, Seoul, and Puumala. It is found in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

In hantavirus-induced hemorrhagic fever incubation time is two to four weeks in humans before symptoms develop. Their severity depends on the viral load.

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is found in North, Central and South America. It is an often fatal pulmonary disease. In the United States, the causative agent is the Sin Nombre virus carried by deer mice. Prodromal symptoms include flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, muscle pain, headache, and lethargy. It is characterized by a sudden onset of shortness of breath with rapidly evolving pulmonary edema that is often fatal despite intervention with mechanical ventilation and potent diuretics. The fatality rate is 36%.

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome was first recognized during the 1993 outbreak in the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States. It was identified by Dr. Bruce Tempest. It was originally called “Four Corners disease,” but the name was changed to “Sin Nombre virus” after complaints by Native Americans that the name “Four Corners” stigmatized the region. It has since been identified throughout the United States. Rodent control in and around the home remains the primary prevention strategy.




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