History of Hantavirus | When and Where Did It All Started | Cases of Hantavirus

The sudden reappearance of Hantavirus took everyone by surprise. The virus has existed among us for more than decades and Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) was the first disease caused by Hantavirus. It was then, identified as a severe respiratory syndrome in 1993. Rat infested areas like farms or food storages are places where the organisms are most likely to exist. Therefore those are the places where you could most likely come in contact with the hantavirus organism. This article contains a description of the history of Hantavirus. Let’s take a deep look at it.

History of Hantavirus / HPS

History of Hantavirus

On May 14 of 1993, a young man in Southwest America had suddenly collapsed and was rushed to the nearest hospital in New Mexico. The patient sadly died due to acute respiratory failure. The person was on his way to his wife’s funeral who had died to similar symptoms just days earlier.

Moreover, in May of 1993, there were reports of several severe acute respiratory illness cases in four corners of the United States that was responsible for complete respiratory failure. The corners were Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. A total of 24 cases of the said illness was recorded since December 1992. The patients were then identified to have been infected by an unknown virus. The virus belonged to the family of Bunyaviridae and the genus Hantavirus. This infection at that time was very surprising to the doctors since no early cases or history of Hantavirus was said to be associated with any infections/diseases relating to human beings in parts of America.

After that, medical tests were performed on Hantavirus patients. Later it was found that the patients suffering from the disease. In their tissue samples, DNA had a modified nucleic acid sequence from a novel Hantavirus. The doctors studied various similar cases. They came to the conclusion that the patients were indeed affected by a disease caused by the novel Hantavirus.

Contributors of Hantavirus/ HPS

Picture of a rat

The primary contributors of Hantavirus infection have been found to be rodents such as mice and rats. Any human being can be infected by the virus. People can get the disease by coming in contact with rodent excreta or by rodent urine. It also spreads through inhalation of the said. Since its outbreak, there has been no evidence that the virus spreads through human contact.

In the year between 1993-2009, there has been 510 laboratory-confirmed cases of the disease.

Age Group

HPS is a disease that primarily affects people that lie in the age group of 20-50 years of age. There were about 7% of cases that occurred in children that were below 16 years of age. 64% of the HPS cases were registered as male patients. Most of the patients were White or American Indian/Native American. 21 % of the patients were reported as Hispanic.

Present Status of Hantavirus

Now, after years, in 2020, a person from Yunnan Province on his way back from work died. It was due to acute respiratory failure. This news was reported by a Chinese state-run Global Times. The person is said to be affected by the same disease caused by Hantavirus. The recent spread of Hantavirus is causing fears in the world.

The world when it’s out on its ways to fight the Novel Coronavirus. It’s very sad to see another such virus making its way. So as responsible citizens it is our duty to listen to our leaders. Furthermore, make sure that we do whatever we can in our capacity to stop such virus outbreaks from happening in the future.


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