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Hantavirus Essay

The contemporary society is currently haunted by detrimental pandemic disease that is caused by a new strain of flu virus. For many years, viruses are considered as a major threat in the society. As such, different virus epidemics have caused a wide array of sickness that created a landmark in the medical field. A virus is a microscopic pathogenic agent that can only reproduce inside a host cell. Viruses infect all kinds of biotic organisms ranging from plants, animals and humans (Koonin, Senkevich & Dolja, 2006).

Viruses cause infections inside the human body and their reproduction cause the disease. At present, there are more than 5,000 species of virus that are discovered and described in detail; however, many viruses have still remained undiscovered and unstudied. One of the most deadly viruses that can put a person’s health to a life-threatening situation is the hantavirus. Hantavirus is one of the most scientifically observed and discovered viruses amongst United State’s soldiers during the Korean War in 1950-1953.

The virus was named after Korea’s Hantaan River, and was shortened to Hantavirus (Casil, 2004). Hantavirus Hantavirus belongs to the family of viruses known as Bunyaviridae. This family of viruses are further divided into five genera which includes Orthobunyavirus, Nairovirus, Phlebovirus, Tospovirus, and Hantavirus. Unlike the other members of the Bunyaviridae family, hantavirus are not arboviruses, which means that viruses are transmitted through arthropods, specifically by blood-sucking insects.

The hantavirus is associated with rodents, specifically with mice and rats (Strauss, 2002). It is a virus that is found in the urine, saliva and droppings of infected mice and rats that serve as carriers of the virus. Rodents become the virus natural reservoir and are transmitted to humans through their contact with aerosolized urine or feces of the infected rodents. The hantavirus does not cause serious disease on their rodent hosts, but cause serious illnesses to human hosts (Strauss, 2002).

The virus does not remain active for long once it is outside of its host. Diseases Caused by the Hantavirus The hantavirus cause a range of serious and even life-threatening diseases to humans. The first hantavirus identified was the pathogenic agent of the epidemic hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, that is commonly known as the Korean hemorrhagic fever that occurred in the U. S. troops during the time of the Korean War. The virus was named after the Hantaan river where it was isolated.

Viruses that are related to the Hantaan virus have been isolated in different parts of the world like the United States and Western Europe (Strauss, 2002). One of the interesting isolation is in May 1993, wherein a new hantavirus caused an acute respiratory disease among humans that caused death. This was later on discovered and named as the Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) or the Human Acute Respiratory Disease Syndrome (ARDS). The virus was first detected in the Four Corners area of the United States that resulted to a rapid 25 deaths of locales.

The virus is associated with a specie of rodents known as the deer mouse (Strauss, 2002). The HPS is characterized with symptoms that started with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches but itcan swiftly progress to life-threatening conditions that include fall in the blood pressure and respiratory failure as the lungs are filled with fluid in a short span of time of 1-5 weeks. This disease is extremely serious as 50-60 percent of the patients died because of it.

Animal laboratory workers and workers at infested buildings are at an increased risk to this disease, particularly those assigned at clean-up and maintenance activities (United States Department of Labor: Occupational Health and Safety Administration, 2007). People can obtain hantavirus infection through inhalation of droplets of saliva or urine or the dust from the feces of the infected rodents, especially the deer mouse. Infection can also be acquired if contaminated material gets into broken skin or ingested through contaminated food and water.

Some of reported cases also conclude that infection can be transmitted through contact with people who have acquired the disease (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety, 2008). Prevention and Treatment on Exposure to the Hantavirus Unfortunately, there has been no vaccine or virus-killing drug developed that was proven effective against HPS. However, the early detection of the disease and appropriate medical care help the chance of recovery.

Most patients discovered with this disease are admitted to the intensive care unit and mechanical ventilation or the use of respirator has been the main treatment to the disease (Directors of Health Promotion and Education, n. d. ). However, prevention is still the best way to avoid the infection. Avoiding contact with rodents and inhaling dust that may be contaminated by the rodents’ saliva, urine or feces is the best way to prevent acquisition of the disease. It is also best to control the population of rodents to avoid the spread of the infection.

It is also important to always keep the kitchen clean and store food and trash in containers with tight lids. In addition, carefully disposing off dead rodents that are trapped or brought by pets is also another way to prevent the spread of the disease (Directors of Health Promotion and Education, n. d. ). Moreover, it is necessary to keep in mind to always use safety precautions when cleaning parts of the house that might be contaminated by the droppings, urine and saliva of rodents. Avoid breathing the dust and wear a mask that will cover your nose and mouth.

Before cleaning, wet down the potential areas that might be contaminated by the rodents’ urine, feces and saliva with a disinfectant such as bleach or alcohol. While cleaning, always use rubber gloves and disinfect them afterwards. Engaging in outside activities may also be a risk to the infection brought by the rodents. Thus, is important to keep away from rodents and their nest. Furthermore, it is also a safety precaution to open up and air out structures like cabins before entering or cleaning (Directors of Health Promotion and Education, n. d. ).

Conclusion Viruses pose a great threat to human health. Personally, I notice that the people has their own shortcomings in attempt to resolve the problem. There are many viruses that are still undiscovered; and as such, the society must put effort in finding out what other viruses are out there before it affects people and take lives. The hantavirus is an example of a virus that is proven to render serious illness to humans. The hantavirus is a type of virus that is easily acquired in the environment as mice and rats are everywhere.

Rats and mice reproduce even more rapidly than humans and they have the capability to spread infection within communities. In this light, I believe that people lack the social responsibility in resolving this problem. Cleanliness and sanitation in the environment is the proper and most effective preventive measure that the people can make use of in order to attain a clean and healthy society. Lastly, more efforts should be put in finding cure to illnesses that are brought by strains of viruses.

The virus was discovered in 1950s and up to the present, there is still no concrete cure to the disease brought by the virus. The society must allot funds and time in finding an effective treatment and cure to the disease to assure the health of the patients infected. We must all do our share in attempt to resolve medical dilemmas brought by viruses and not just watch these microscopic agents take the lives of our families and friends.


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