IDR - Immune Diagnostics & Research


Hantavirus Infection: a review and global update

Zhenqiang Bi, Pierre B.H. Formenty, Cathy E. Roth

Biorisk Reduction for Dangerous Pathogens, Department of Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response, World Health Organization, Geneva



Hantaviruses have the potential to cause two different types of diseases in human: hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). HFRS, initially described clinically at the turn of the 20th century, occurs endemically in the Asian and European continents, while HPS, recognized as a clinical entity since 1993, represents the prototype of emerging diseases occurring in the Western hemisphere. Approximately 150,000 to 200,000 cases of HFRS are hospitalized each year world wide, with most of the cases occurring in the developing countries. The case fatality rate of HFRS varies from <1% to 12% depending on the viruses. Although HPS is much smaller in number than HFRS, with approximately 200 HPS cases per year in the Americas, the average case fatality rate is 40%. The reported cases of hantaviral infection is increasing in many countries and new hantavirus strains have been increasingly identified worldwide, which constitutes a public health problem of increasing global concern. Hantaviral infection might be underestimated due to its asymptomatic and non-specific mild infection, and the lack of simple standardized laboratory diagnostics in hospitals, especially in the developing countries. This review summarizes the current knowledge on virology, epidemiology, clinical manifestation, laboratory diagnostics, treatment and prevention of hantaviruses and hantaviral infections.


hantavirus, hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, HFRS, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, HPS, rodent control, vaccine

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