Outbreak at Yosemite
Let me start by saying, I am not medically trained (and as a result I may have some inaccuracies in this hub). This hub is just a result of my research on this virus.
I read an article in Sep 2012 saying that there had been an outbreak of hantavirus at Yosemite in the US. I had heard of hantavirus but essentially knew nothing about it, so I looked it up to find out more.
It turns out that Hantaviruses are a group of viruses, including two which are potentially fatal to humans - Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome (HFRS) and Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).
It is spread to humans through contact with infected rodents - urine, saliva or excrement. It was thought that it would not transmit human to human but a case in Argentina has since proven to have been spread through human-to-human contact.
Symptoms of HFRS
Incubation period of 2-4 weeks before symptoms appear, then symptoms are divided into 5 phases:
Febrile phase (occurs for 3-7 days and starts about 2-3 weeks after exposure) - Symptoms include fever, chills, sweaty palms, diarrhea, malaise, headaches, nausea, abdominal and back pain, respiratory problems like those common in the influenza virus, as well as gastro-intestinal problems.
Hypotensive phase (can last about 2 days) - The blood platelet levels drop and symptoms can lead to rapid heart beat (tachycardia) and low oxygenpressure in the blood (hypoxemia).
Oliguric phase (3-7 days) - characterised by the onset of kidney (renal) failure and excess proteirn in the urine (proteinuria).
Diuretic phase (lasts for a couple of days to up to weeks) - characterized by increased production and passage of urine (diuresis) of three to six litres per day.
Convalescent phase - symptoms being to resolve and recovery occurs.
Symptoms of HPS
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is rare but can be a fatal disease - being fatal in up to 60% of cases.
The symptoms are very similar to those of HFRS and include rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) and rapid breathing (tachypnea). Patients will additionall develop difficulty breathing, coughing and shortness of breath.
This can lead to a cardiopulmonary phase, where cardiovascular shock can occur, and hospitalization is required.
Preventing Hantavirus is a matter of rodent control. Be sure to dispose of rodent nests, seal any cracks and holes in your home (where mice or rats could get in), lay down poisons or use natural predators (such as cats) in and around the home.