What is the role of Hantavirus in the etiology of viral pneumonia?

Updated: Mar 24, 2021
  • Author: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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Hantavirus is a genus of enveloped RNA viruses in the family Bunyaviridae. The majority are transmitted by arthropod vectors. Hantaviruses, however, are harbored by rodents, with each viral species having one major rodent host species. Rodents, which are chronically infected, excrete hantaviruses from urine, saliva, and feces. Infection occurs after aerosols of infectious excreta are inhaled.

The hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is seen in the Americas and is an acute pneumonitis caused by the North American hantavirus, most notably the Sin Nombre Virus. [27, 28] Two other agents, isolated in other parts of North America, can also cause HPS.

Hantaviruses originally were recognized in the four-corners region of the southwestern United States (New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado) in May 1993. The deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) was identified to be the reservoir.

Cases of HPS have continued to be reported in the United States. As of July 2010, 545 cases of HPS had been reported in the United States from 32 states. [29]

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