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There are animals in nature that look very tender and make you want to live with them, that feeling is stronger in children, however, some are usually dangerous, this is one of those cases. We talk about rodents and fever and pulmonary syndrome in children caused by Hantavirus, the virus that is transmitted from these animals to humans.
Hantaviruses are a genus of viruses that are transmitted from rodents (serving as a reservoir) to humans (who are affected by the disease). Its name comes from the Hantan River, a river in South Korea, which was where this virus was isolated and the first documented cases occurred. It can cause two types of disease:
- Viral hemorrhagic fever or hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, with greater distribution in Europe (Germany, France, Belgium, Holland and Russia) and Asia (predominantly in China and Korea).
- Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome characterized by fever, shortness of breath and shock. The latter is a serious disease, with the largest distribution being America and has a mortality of 60 to 80%.
Viruses in this family that can cause severe (lung) disease are transmitted primarily by rodents of the sigmodontinae subfamily, voles, but transmission of viruses of this genus by rats and other wild rodents has been identified.
The Hantavirus associated diseases they mainly affect the blood vessels, causing dilation and fluid leakage. In the case of hemorrhagic fever-like illness with kidney syndrome, the infection may be so mild that it does not cause symptoms.
These patients generally recover completely, in other cases they may have symptoms as vague as fever, muscle pain, headache and nausea, which last an average of 2 to 4 days. Later they present irritation on the face, which resembles a sunburn, which is covered with hives, which can also appear on the chest and back.
Some patients are aggravated by presenting alteration in blood pressure with shock that causes renal failure and urine production may be interrupted, due to accumulation of fluid (edema) rich in proteins in the retroperitoneal region that is also accompanied by bleeding in the urine, in the stool and multiple bruises or bleeding in the nose or gums, causing death between 1 and 15% of patients. Of the patients who survive, it takes 3 weeks to 6 months to recover.
The main symptoms begin two weeks after contact with the virus (contact with urine or rodent droppings) and are fever, chills, followed by headache, muscle aches, back pain, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, rash in the skin. These symptoms usually last 3 to 4 days.
If the disease is of the pulmonary type, pulmonary failure develops due to the accumulation of fluid in the lungs and a decrease in blood pressure within a few hours, causing death between 50 to 75% of those affected. People who survive the first 5 days get better in 2 to 3 weeks.
The diagnosis is through a blood test to identify the virus, so you should go to your doctor who, after suspecting the cause, will ask you to perform some tests. Treatment is to improve symptoms, oxygen and mechanical ventilation devices to improve breathing, in case you contract the pulmonary variety, and dialysis in the case of the renal variety.
In 1996 in Argentina there was an outbreak where there was evidence that suggests that there was transmission from humans to humans, but this phenomenon has not occurred in other parts of the world. There are more than 30 Hantaviruses in the world, in America 20 have been isolated from Canada to Patagonia.
Control of the disease is avoiding the presence of wild rodents in urban areas and avoiding contact with rodents in rural areas as much as possible, using protective measures for eyes, nose, mouth and wounds.
Since the transmission of the disease is through contact with saliva, feces, urine of rodents or bites, it is recommended to use protection when cleaning places where rodents are suspected or have been. Wear gloves and also cover mouths, since powdered excrement can be the means of contagion.
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