Hantavirus History

There are currently more than 20 recognized sero/genotypes of hantaviruses. The different hantavirus types are associated with different types of diseases. Two major diseases are recognized: hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). HFRS is primarily a disease of Europe and Asia while HPS is only recognized in the Americas. This discussion will be limited to HPS.

The initial outbreak of illness from Hantavirus in the United States. was described in 1993, however the earliest case of a serologically confirmed infection was in a person that developed an HPS-like illness in 1959. Since 1993, cases in North, Central, and South America have been recognized. The sero/genotype of the virus appears to be different by country although clinical manifestations are similar (51,52).

The first outbreak in the United States appeared in June and July 1993 in the Four Corners (Arizona, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico) region. In the United States since then, as of September 1, 2004 there have been 379 cases noted in 32 states. The overall case fatality in the United States has been 36% (52).

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