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any of a genus (Hantavirus) of single-stranded RNA virusesvirus,
parasite with a noncellular structure composed mainly of nucleic acid within a protein coat. Most viruses are too small (100–2,000 Angstrom units) to be seen with the light microscope and thus must be studied by electron microscopes.
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 that are carried by rodents and transmitted to humans when they inhale vapors from contaminated rodent urine, saliva, or feces. There are many strains of hantavirus. The first to be isolated (1976) was the Hantaan virus (from the Han River in South Korea, which also gives the species its name). Hantaan virus and its related strains, Seoul virus and Puulmala virus, cause Korean hemorrhagic fever (more correctly, hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome), a condition in which the capillaries of the circulatory system begin to leak blood. Although some people with the disease are nearly asymptomatic, in others it can lead to shock, acute kidney failure, and, in 10% of cases, death.

A second disease, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, was identified in the United States in 1993 and is caused by at least three strains of the virus. It is known to be carried by deer mice, white-footed mice, and cotton rats. This disease is much more deadly, causing flulike symptoms that can lead to fluid accumulation in the lungs and death. One of the pulmonary strains, the Sin Nombre virus (named for a Spanish massacre of Native Americans that occurred in the canyon where it was discovered), was the cause of a 1993 outbreak in the Four Corners area of the SW United States that killed 32 of 53 people known to have been infected. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome occurs sporadically in North America, with roughly one third of those known to be infected dying from the disease. Outbreaks of a hantavirus strain that apparently can be spread from person to person occurred in South America in 1996 and 1997. There is no vaccination for pulmonary hantavirus. Treatment includes respiratory and hemodynamic support; the antiviral drug ribavirin has been effective in some cases.

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References in periodicals archive ?
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support improves survival of patients with severe hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome.
HFRS patients with severe lung involvement resembling hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome have been described (1).
These viruses cause life-threatening human diseases: hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome in the Americas and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome in Asia and Europe (1).
Seroprevalence of antibodies against hantavirus in 10 communities of the IX region of Chile where hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome cases were reported [in Spanish].
Since its identification in 1993, hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HPS) and numerous New World hantavirus species have been described across a wide geographic range of North, Central, and South America (5).
Humoral immune responses in the hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome.
Hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome in the Triangulo Mineiro and Alto Paranaiba regions, State of Minas Gerais, 1998- 2005: clinical-epidemiological aspects of 23 cases [in Portuguese].
To the Editor: Hantaviruses cause 2 severe and often fatal human diseases, hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) in Eurasia and hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS) in the Americas.