Hantavirus is part of the Bunyaviridae family. This family is divided into 5 genera: Orthobunyavirus, Nairovirus, Phlebovirus, Tospovirus, and Hantavirus. Hantaviruses have genomes comprising three negative-sense, single-stranded RNA segments. Viruses in the genus Hantavirus are transmitted by aerosolized rodent excretia or rodent bites.
The name is derived from the Hantan River where it was first isolated by Dr. Ho-Wang Lee. The disease associated with Hantaan virus is hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome although it was formerly called Korean hemorrhagic fever. The genus of viruses is relatively new since it was first discovered in the early 1950s.
In 1993, Sin Nombre virus was found to be the cause of Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in New Mexico. Terry Yates first identified the rodent host. Along with Sin Nombre and Hantaan there are several other Hantaviruses that have been implicated as etiologic agents.
The viruses are roughly spherical and about 100 nanometers in diameter. Within the envelope are a series of glycoproteins composed of the G1 and G2 proteins derived from the S segment.
Hantavirus infections pathogenesis is unclear as there is a lack of animal models. The primary replication site is unclear. In HFRS the most dramatic damage is done in the kidneys, however, in HPS the lungs, spleen, and gall bladder are most affected.
HFRS affects China, the Korean Peninsula, Russia, Northern and western Europe. Patagonian, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, the United States, Canada, and Panama have the highest incidences of HCPS. In South America the Andes virus and Laguna Negra virus are the two agents of HCPS in South America.
As of July 2010, eight states had reported 30 or more cases of Hantavirus. The incubation time is 2 to 4 weeks in humans, before symptoms of infection occur. Symptoms can be split into five phases: the Febrile phase, hypotensive phase, Oliguric phase, Diuretic phase, and the Convalescent phase.
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a deadly disease transmitted through rodent urine, droppings, and saliva. Humans can contract it after they breathe in aerosolized virus. It was first recognized in 1993 and has since been identified throughout the US. It is rare but potentially deadly. Rodent control is the best way to prevent the disease. Symptoms include tachycardia and tachypnea. These conditions can lead to a cardiopulmonary phase where cardiovascular shock can occur.
There is no antiviral treatment. In order to prevent exposure it is best to keep mice away from you home.