Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Upcoming COCA Call: Identification and Care of Patients with Hantavirus Disease

Credit CDC


Hantavirus  is a collective term for a group of viruses in the Bunyaviridae family – hosted by various types of rodents - that vary in distribution, symptomology, and severity around the world.

The clinical symptoms of Hantavirus were first recognized by western medicine back in the early 1950s during the Korean war, when 3,000 UN troops stationed there were infected with a mysterious viral illness. 

The mortality rate was 10%-15%, with patients experiencing fever, hypotension, renal failure, and internal bleeding (disseminated intravascular coagulation).

Originally called Korean Hemorrhagic Fever (later dubbed Hantavirus after the Hantaan River of Korea), we now know it by a variety of names today, including the American Sin Nombre Virus,  Europe's milder Puumala Virus, and  the Andes Virus in South America.

As summer is the time when we typically see the most cases of Hantavirus, tomorrow the CDC will hold a COCA call for healthcare providers on:
Identification and Care of Patients with Hantavirus Disease

Date:Thursday, June 30, 2016

Time:2:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern Time)

Participate by Phone:

    800-779-5346 (U.S. Callers)
    517-308-9340 (International Callers)


Participate by Webinar:

Barbara Knust, DVM, MPH, DCAVPM
Office of Infectious Diseases
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Gregory Mertz, MD
Professor Emeritus
Department of Internal Medicine
University of New Mexico

Michelle Harkins, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
Division Chief, Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine
Department of Internal Medicine
University of New Mexico


Hantavirus infection in the United States can cause severe and life-threatening illness, requiring rapid assessment, presumptive diagnosis, and high-level supportive care of respiratory and cardiac functions. Hantavirus infection causes a cardiopulmonary syndrome, which includes rapid accumulation of pulmonary edema following a flu-like prodrome. 

Approximately 37% of cases end in death. Although hantavirus disease is rare, clinicians should be aware of the risk factors, clinical picture, and essential care elements. During this COCA call, clinicians will learn about the epidemiology, diagnosis, and clinical care of patients with hantavirus disease in the United States.


At the conclusion of the session, the participant will be able to accomplish the following:

  • Describe the risk factors, endemic areas, and incubation period of hantavirus infection
  • Identify the clinical presentation and methods to identify a patient with hantavirus in the clinical setting
  • Understand the parameters of clinical management and critical care for patients with hantavirus

Additional Resources


I confess to having a bit of of a personal interest in the Hantavirus story because my ex-wife’s cousin (Dr. Ron Voorhees) was one of the original investigators of the famous 4 corner’s outbreak of Hantavirus in 1993 when he worked as an epidemiologist for the state of New Mexico. 

It was during this outbreak that the New World `Sin Nombre’ (Spanish for `No Name’) Hantavirus was identified, and found to be widely prevalent in its natural host, the deer mouse.

If you would like to learn more about the history of that outbreak, and the epidemiological work done to identify the pathogen, I can direct you to an excellent account at:

Tracking a Mystery Disease:
The Detailed Story of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome

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