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Chileans create vaccine against Hantavirus

The carrier of the virus is mainly the long-tailed mouse (Oligoryzomis longicaudatus) inhabiting the southern forests of South America.

Long-tailed mouse

Long-tailed mouse / Photo: Courtesy

LatinAmerican Post | Alberto Castaño Camacho

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Leer en español: Chilenos crean vacuna contra el virus Hanta

A group of scientists from the University of Concepción, in Chile, has managed to give a blow of science to a health problem that seriously afflicted the countries of the so-called southern cone in Latin America, have reported that they found the vaccine that prevents contagion Hantavirus, a life-threatening virus that has claimed the lives of several hundred people in the last decade alone.

The deadly Hantavirus has been a constant concern mainly for the countries of southern Latin America, only in Argentina 598 cases of infected people were reported between 2013 and 2018, of which 111 were fatalities. This 18% mortality rate alerts the health authorities of the gaucho country, but even more dramatic was the case of the year 2018 when the outbreak in the heavenly Patagonian town of Epuyén led to a court order that prevented its inhabitants from leaving their houses, because of 28 cases presented, 11 of them died.

A team led by Dr. Oliberto Sánchez, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Biological Sciences of the University of Concepción and PhD. in Biological Sciences of the University of Havana in Cuba, has obtained the success in the result of this vaccine after seven dedicated years of judicious research and now he is only expected to pass international tests so that he can reach the public and start to take away their lives that could charge the Hanta.

How is it spread?

Considered a zoonosis or disease transmitted by animals to humans, the carrier of the virus is mainly the long-tailed mouse (Oligoryzomis longicaudatus) inhabiting the southern forests of South America. It is estimated that approximately 6% of mice are carriers and could potentially infect humans with the strain.

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Dr. Roberto Olivares, a Chilean infectologist explains that “the most important transmission mechanism is the inhalation of viral particles excreted in the saliva, urine, and depositions of the mouse. Thus, the best way to prevent the disease is to avoid contact with the mouse or its excretions. ”

It is usually more common in the summer, because transmission occurs as a result of inhalation, mainly, of the dust that emerges from the dry urine of the mouse in forests or rural areas. It is difficult to diagnose, as it is initially presented as the flu, with fever, decay, muscle aches, headache and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.

Hanta differs from a simple flu picture because of a lower sore throat, and Dr. Olivares clarifies that the flu usually occurs more frequently in the winter months, while Hanta does it mainly in the summer months.

It is estimated that the disease can be fatal with a rate ranging from 30% to 40% as a result of a severe respiratory and cardiovascular failure in advanced cases of the disease, as happened in early 2019 in the southern summer season.

Although the transmission among humans is considered infrequent and only occurs at the beginning of the incubation of the virus that usually lasts about 45 days, this outbreak of the beginning of 2019 in the Argentine Patagonia, according to the country's health authorities occurred after a a man in that town cleaned his shed where there were surely presence of field mice, called 'colilargos', presented some symptoms days later and shared a birthday party attended by about 40 people who in turn were infecting others plus. Uncommon but possible and that summer of 2019 will be remembered by the Patagonian inhabitants of Epuyén, as a deadly summer, however, thanks to the advances of science and the commitment of these Chilean scientists, it is expected that the vaccine that will save will soon be available Many lives

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