The genus Hantavirus consists of at least four serogroups with nine viruses causing two major clinical (sometimes overlapping) syndromes: hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in North America and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) in other continents. Hantaviruses are found throughout the world in wild rodents that shed the virus in their urine and feces. Transmission occurs between rodents and to humans through inhalation of aerosols of the rodent urine and feces. Hantaviruses associated with outbreaks in the US and Canada are transmitted by the deer mouse, white-footed mouse, or cotton rat.
HPS begins as a nonspecific flu-like illness with headache, fever, myalgia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Patients rapidly develop pulmonary edema and hypotension resulting in pneumonia, shock, and death, with a mortality rate of up to 50%. This virus can also cause HFRS, which has not been reported in the US. The initial symptoms of this condition include high fever, headache, chills, nausea, inflammation or redness of the eyes, or a rash. Later symptoms are hemorrhaging, hypotension, kidney failure, shock, and death. The mortality rate of HFRS can be as high as 15%.
ELISA, Western blot, rapid immunoblot strip assay (RIBA), and RT-PCR detect host antibodies or viral proteins produced during infection. Immunohistological staining may also be used to detect the presence of viral antigens. There are no clinical treatments other than general supportive care available for HPS infections. Patients with HFRS can be treated with ribavirin.
Parker, N., Schneegurt, M., Thi Tu, A.-H., Forster, B. M., & Lister, P. (n.d.). Microbiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/microbiology