An outbreak of hantavirus, a disease caused by hantavirus, is affecting the city of Epuyén, in southern Argentina. From December 2018 to the first week of 2019, 10 people died. New cases in neighboring cities have also been reported.
According to health authorities in the region, the cases in the Argentine city would have started after a man, whose name has not been released, came into contact with fluids (urine, saliva or feces) from mice after cleaning an old shed.
The man reportedly breathed the virus particles present in the fluids of the rodents and transmitted the disease after contact with other people during a birthday party.
Family members and friends who were there began to experience the first symptoms, which are similar to the flu : fever , headaches, body aches, vomiting and diarrhea – in more severe conditions, the disease can cause respiratory complications and cause death .
Two other cases were announced in the vicinity of Epuyén, in the city of Chubut, where the government reported that two women and a 16-year-old teenager also died.
Why does the outbreak worry?
Hantavirus infections are transmitted by rodents through the inhalation of fluid particles from these animals. On the other hand, contagion among infected people is not frequent in hantavirus.
Therefore, the suspicion that the cases in Argentina happened due to contact with other patients is an alert to a possible spread of the disease – even though the government still believes that all infections have arisen in the same city.
The concern now is that the hantavirus will be spread by the saliva vapor and reach a greater spread. At the moment, local authorities continue to assess the cases and adopt control measures.
Hantavirus is easily confused with other infections, such as leptospirosis . The disease causes severe respiratory and cardiac problems and has no specific treatment. But the sooner it is detected, the greater the chances of recovery.