Hantaviruses in the Americas: a growing problem

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James N. Mills

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Hantaviruses (genus Hantavirus , family Bunyaviridae ) are associated with specific rodent hosts, in which they cause a chronic, asymptomatic infection, involving the shedding of infectious virus into the environment in urine, feces, and saliva. Hantaviruses are associated with three subfamilies of murid rodents: (1) The Murinae (old world rats and mice) host viruses that cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) in Asia and Europe; (2) the Sigmodontinae (New World rats and mice) host viruses that cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in the Americas; (3) the Arvicolinae (pan-arctic voles and lemmings) host viruses causing mild HFRS in Europe and Asia, but no disease in the Americas.

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