Hantavirus – Panama

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Seven cases of disease caused by Hantavirus have been reported, six are from the Los Santos province (Tonosi district) and one in Veraguas province. This last case was also found positive for COVID-19. Three cases have been classified as Hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HPS) and four as Hantavirus fever.

All seven cases are progressing favorably.

The central provinces in Panama, and especially Los Santos, are the localities where most hantavirus infections occur in Panama every year.

Health authorities urge residents in the Los Santos, Herrera, and Veraguas provinces put into place the measures for cleanliness in and around their residences in order to avoid the spread of Hantaviruses.

Photo: Rat – rodents are a natural reservoir of Hantavirus.

Recommended preventive measures are:

  • store grain in sacks and closed plastic containers, place them on pallets and separated from the walls;
  • place firewood, lumber, or any other useful materials distant from the house, in an arid, dry area and on pallets;
  • drain residual water from patios and keep them clean;
  • keep the kitchen area clean and utensils in covered containers, to avoid that they enter in contact with rodents;
  • open doors and windows for 60 minutes before cleaning areas that have been closed for a long time;
  • spray floors with water (a 10% bleach solution is better) to avoid raising contaminated dust.

 

The natural reservoir of Hantavirus is rodents, although infected with the virus it does not cause disease in them. Humans may become infected with Hantaviruses through contact with rodent urine, saliva, or feces. Some strains cause potentially fatal diseases in humans, such as Hantavirus hemorrhagic fever or Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Human infections of Hantaviruses have almost entirely been linked to human contact with rodent excrement; however, in 2005 and 2019, human-to-human transmission of the Andes virus was reported in South America. Hantavirus infections have been reported from all continents except Australia.

Hantavirus is named for the Hantan River area in South Korea where an early outbreak was observed.

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