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Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome: epidemiology, prevention, and case presentation of a new viral strain

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome: epidemiology, prevention, and case presentation of a new viral strain

Nurse Practitioner 21(6): 89-90, 93, 96 Passim

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a viral infection from a new strain of Hantavirus. The Hantavirus was first discovered in North America in 1993 after an outbreak of fatal illness on a Navajo Indian reservation in New Mexico. Since then, 122 cases of HPS (with a high mortality rate of more than 50%) have been reported in 23 states, with the highest prevalence in the Four Corners area. The reservoir for Hantavirus is small rodents, mostly field mice, vole, and chipmunks. It is transmitted through inhalation of airborne virus from dry rodent excreta and saliva. A North American strain of Hantavirus, named ain nombre virus (SNV), primarily affects the lungs, causing rapid accumulation of fluids and leading to noncardiogenic pulmonary edema, pleural effusion, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). In the prodromal stage, HPS presents with flu-like symptoms, nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal pain and is often mistaken on the first visit for other infectious diseases or gastroenteritis. In the second acute stage, rapid respiratory deterioration begins: HPS is often misdiagnosed for pneumonia, idiopathic ARDS, and pulmonary edema. HPS treatment with an experimental antiviral intravenous drug, ribavirin, is under investigation. Practitioners must possess through clinical knowledge on the diagnoses, pathology, treatment, and course of the disease to reduce the mortality and morbidity rate of this rare but serious infection. A case report based on a recent HPS death in New York State on Long island in April 1995 is presented.

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Accession: 046211914

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PMID: 8784877

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