Hantavirus – Argentina

The Ministry of Public Health reports that 5 positive cases of hantavirus infection have been registered in the Salta province since the beginning of 2021. Of those people affected by the virus, one death resulted.

The infected individuals are residents of the Oran Santa Rosa colony General Mosconi and Hipolito Yrigoyen. Of the patients, 3 are female and 2 are male. The epidemiological surveillance is the same as that followed for mosquito transmitted diseases. Given a nonspecific acute febrile disease, laboratory studies are being done for dengue, Zika, chikungunya, hantaviruses, and other arboviruses.

The Ministry of Public Health especially recommends to the population that lives in rural areas to keep their residences and untended areas clean in order to avoid the presence of rodents that transmit the hantaviruses, as well as block openings in doors, walls and around pipes where they could enter.

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

Exposure to Hantaviruses can cause a rare but often fatal disease called Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), which can progress rapidly into serious complications.

Humans are most often exposed by breathing in air particles contaminated by deer mouse saliva, urine, or feces containing infectious Hantaviruses.

Caution must be used when opening cabins, sheds or garages after a period of time. Floor surfaces may be contaminated and are best disinfected with a 10% bleach solution 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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