Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Hantavirus: Researchers blame increased travel and trade and changes in land use patterns

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 1: Researchers blame increased travel and trade, and
changes in land use patterns for the emergence of Hantavirus and other

"Increased travel and trade and changes in land use patterns has given
the chance to these viruses to evolve and emerge now and then," said
Dr Sunit K Singh, senior scientist at the Centre for Cellular and
Molecular Biology.

He said Hantavirus are classified into two main groups: Old World and
New World Hantaviruses. The Old World Hantaviruses include species
which cause Haemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome (HFRS) in Asia and
Europe while the New World Hantaviruses cause Hantavirus Pulmonary
Syndrome mostly in the Americas.

Dr Sunit Singh pointed out that since the Hantaviruses are the RNA
viruses, the probability of mutation is always higher. Such mutational
events help these viruses in their immune evasion capacity. "It is
very important to increase the awareness of these emerging pathogens
and their
impact on public health system in society," he added.

According to him, people get sick one to five weeks after the
Hantavirus infection. In beginning people have the symptoms of fever,
severe muscle aches, headaches and fatigue. Usually, people do not
have a runny nose, sore throat, or a rash. Hemorrhagic manifestations
may be seen as
flushing of the face, hemorrhagic manifestations of the conjunctiva
and mucous membranes.

"Since it is hard to tell if a mouse or a rat carries a Hantavirus, it
is best to avoid all wild mice and rats and to safely clean up any
rodent urine, droppings, or nests in your home. Keep mice and rats out
of your home. Clean up mouse and rat urine, droppings, and nesting
materials with a disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water. Wash
the hand carefully
after such cleanings," Dr Sunit Singh said.

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