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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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Utility of emergency, telephone-based national surveillance for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
On August 16, 2012, after a mild winter and a rainy spring and summer, the California Department of Public Health in conjunction with the CDC announced two serologically-confirmed cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in two California residents who had stayed overnight in cabins in Yosemite National Park.
Online Case Report Update, Epidemiology of HPS Slide Set, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome.
from Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is Distinguishable From Acute Interstitial Pneumonia--Colby et al)
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (Rio Mamore virus) in the Peruvian Amazon region [in Spanish].
This recognition of New World hantaviruses, coupled with a better understanding of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, has resulted in critical improvements in the rapid recognition and clinical management of the disease and better understanding of the natural reservoir (rodents) and mode of transmission, all of which have greatly improved the ability to implement control and prevention measures, with emphasis on the critical role of individual communities.
Rains and flooding in the western United States have led to an increase in cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome this year, according to the June 9 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Beginning around the same time, dozens of other infectious diseases--including Lyme disease, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, West Nile virus, and Ebola hemorrhagic fever--were either newly recognized, spread to new locations, or became increasingly deadly.
In the spring and summer of 1993, an outbreak of acute respiratory disease in the southwestern United States was attributed to a novel hantavirus; the disease was subsequently named hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS).
There were 217 confirmed cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in 30 states during January-May 1999; 13 were in children under age 16, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.