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Epidemiology and diagnosis of hantavirus infections

Brian Hjelle, MD
Section Editor
Martin S Hirsch, MD
Deputy Editor
Sheila Bond, MD


Hantaviruses comprise a genus of enveloped viruses within the family Bunyaviridae. All medically important hantaviruses are carried by rodents of the families Muridae and Cricetidae. These pathogens are associated with two severe, acute febrile illnesses:

Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS; caused by hantaviruses of the Old World)

Hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS; caused by hantaviruses of the New World), also known as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS)

The epidemiology and diagnosis of hantavirus infections, with a special emphasis on HCPS, will be reviewed here. The clinical manifestations, pathogenesis, and prevention of hantavirus infection are discussed separately. (See "Hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome" and "Renal involvement with hantavirus infection (hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome)" and "Pathogenesis of hantavirus infections".)


The precise number of identified hantavirus species is a matter of debate, but at least 20 to 30 distinct viral species exist in nature; at least a dozen are associated with human disease (table 1).

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 21, 2017.
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