Two deaths in Chile (Casablanca, Biobio) and three hospitalizations in Argentina (Oran) resulted from hantavirus this past week.
The deaths in Chile included a 41-year-old woman, who died of cardiovascular failure, and a 3 1/2-year-old child. These two infections brought the number of Chilean hantavirus cases in 2011 to three. Health authorities responded by testing the victims' family members for hantavirus infection and monitoring their health. Additionally, calls for increased public health measures, including ventilation of buildings, proper disposal of trash, and education of the local population, are being implemented.
In Argentina, the three cases were males. One patient has been released from the hospital, one is recovering in the medical clinic, and one remains in critical condition. The source of their infection appears to be associated with the "rural and recreational activities" in which the males were involved.
As discussed in class, hantavirus is a bunyavirus that leads to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, in which fluid leaks into the lungs, causing the patient to drown internally. Hantavirus is transmitted by rodent resevoir (sigmodontine) via their urine and feces. They look cute, but beware!