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Hantavirus killed an Israeli researcher while working with wild animals in Finland

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  • Hantavirus killed an Israeli researcher while working with wild animals in Finland
    [A hantavirus killed an Israeli researcher: hazards while working with wild animals].
    Israeli E
    Harefuah [2014, 153(8):443-4, 499]

    An Israeli researcher working in Finland with Bank Voles, contracted an infectious viral disease and died. This was a rare event, but it is important to learn about this class of viruses and to be aware of the hazards while working in the field in close contact with wild animals. The virus termed Puumala belongs to the genus Hanta from the Bunyaviridae family. The natural reservoir is rodents, mice, rats and Bank Votes for the Puuamala strain. The disease is termed HFRS (hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome), is prevalent in Asia and Europe, affecting 200,000 people a year, with 5-15% percent mortality (although in Finland mortality rate is 0.1%). The New World strains cause HPS (hemorrhagic pulmonary syndrome) affecting 200 people a year with 40% mortality. Virus is present in all rodents excretions, and route of infection is by aerosols, hand to mucus membranes contamination, by rodents bites and by contaminated food or water. More than 226 work related infections were documented. Treatment with Ribavirin helps in HFRS but not in HPS. The virus is stable in the environment for long periods, and research must be carried out at biosafety level 3. Working outdoors in rodent infested area, should be carried out using protective clothing, gloves, googles and face mask whenever aerosol producing tasks are performed. Both indoor and outdoor, it is important to adhere to self-hygienic procedures, especially hand washing.

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