Residents of a small town in southwestern Argentina are affected by an outbreak of a hantavirus transmitted by rodents. More than ten deaths from cardiopulmonary failure have been reported in the last six weeks.
In Argentina, in the province of Chubut, in Epuyén, fourteen patients have recently died. They have all been contaminated with a hantavirus, a dangerous disease transmitted by urine and rodent feces that affects the lung system.
In this small mountainous region in southwestern Argentina, where the epidemic has lasted for six weeks, 94 of the 3,500 inhabitants have been quarantined. Wednesday, January 16, the death of a 25-year-old man was registered in Epuyen. Eleven others followed only 24 hours later. Argentine Health Minister Adolfo Rubinstein said that patients are going through a "very serious condition".
Fever, nausea, haemorrhage ...
The first cases of hantaviruses occurred in Canada in 1994. This disease has a very high mortality rate, as 40% of patients do not survive. Symptoms appear gradually between 1 and 5 weeks after the period of infection.
The first signs of the disease usually manifest as intense fever, as well as muscle aches, diarrhea and vomiting. If worsened, the blood pressure drops abnormally and the lungs become filled with fluid, resulting in severe respiratory failure and severe haemorrhage.
How is the virus spread?
The deer mouse, the white-footed mouse, the rice rat and the cotton rat - the most common breeds in Argentina - are the types of rodents that can transmit hantavirus virus to humans in North America. and South.
Inhalation of dust from droppings is a common cause of infestation. Transmission can also occur through direct contact between contaminated material and non-intact (scuffed) skin, or through ingestion of contaminated food or water.
And in France ?
The cardiopulmonary form of severe hantavirus infection is only found in French Guiana. In metropolitan France, the only hantavirus infections described are "haemorrhagic fevers with renal syndrome". The virus is transmitted during work in barns because it is found in the dust contaminated by urine and excrement of voles and other rodents
These fevers occur in small epidemics especially in spring and summer, mainly in the northeastern quarter of France. They affect a hundred people a year and are usually not serious but, in some cases, they can lead to serious complications with kidney involvement.