Hanta Virus Essay, Research Paper
Hanta Virus As A Deadly Disease
Hanta virus is a dangerous and often deadly disease that must be guarded against. If proper precautions are not taken, hanta virus could lead to a nationwide outbreak causing many deaths. While there are a few cases of hanta virus reported each year, the consequences of coming down with the disease dictates that the U.S. set up certain safeguards to educate the population on how to protect themselves. Even though research is being done on hanta virus and its related illnesses, there persist many unanswered questions.
Hanta virus like all other viri are some of the smallest organisms known to man. Their existence as living organisms is debated. Viri perform only the most basic functions of life. They seek out a suitable environment and reproduce (Fraser pg. 9).
“Hanta virus belongs to a group of RNA Viri related to the family Bonyaviridae and, depending on its nature, may be the etiological agent for one of two acute illnesses: Hanta virus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) and, Hemorrhagic fever with Renal Syndrome (HFRS)”(info1.html pg. 1).
While hanta virus has only recently been discovered, it is by no means a new virus. Having been around for several millennia, hanta virus has found its way into Indian legends. Hanta virus is a very secretive disease, its symptoms are so vague and its occurrence is so low it was viewed as several different illnesses for hundreds of years. The only reason hanta virus was identified was due to a 1993 outbreak that involved many people getting sick within a short time and in the same area. Now hanta virus’s presence can be isolated with antibody tests. People who have had the disease, both living and dead, have been identified as far back as thirty years ago (info1.html pg. 2)
Hanta virus can have many symptoms, some of which may or may not occur in all patients. In addition, the incubation time of the virus is uncertain. Researchers think that it takes between one and five weeks after the initial contact with the virus before victims start showing symptoms of the illness. These early symptoms can vary significantly from person to person. While most people will feel fatigue, fever and muscle aches in the large muscle groups. Other may also experience chills, dizziness, and abdominal pains. A week later, infected people will begin to experience coughing and a shortness of breath as their lungs fill with fluid. It is important to note that most hanta virus victims became ill even though they did not see rodents or their dropping, and others have had a large amount of contact with both before they became sick (CDC.gov pg. 1). Because of the wide variety of symptoms, hanta virus has gone through several different names.
“The common clinical features among the case-patients included a prodromial illness of fever, chills, and myalgia. The prodrome was followed by dyspnea, cough, throbocytopenia, severe hemodynamic instability, neutrophilid with immature forms, atypical lymphocytes, elevated serum levels of lactate dehydrogenase. There was a high mortality rate, approximately eighty percent in the initial group of patients, the chest x-ray examinations revealed a diffuse, interstitial infiltrate that resembled that observed in patients with adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is a common pattern in patients who are extremely ill from any of a variety of diseases (E.G. bacterial sepsis or trauma). The disease was thus called Unexplained ARDS (hanta.html).
While hanta virus is a potentially deadly disease, there are ways of safeguarding oneself against infections. Rodents carry Hanta virus: rice rats, deer mice and cotton rats. These are just a few of the known carriers of the virus. In a process known as aerosolization, tiny particles of the virus are made airborne when rodent droppings, urine or saliva are disturbed. This is the primary means of infection. Because rodents spread the disease with urine, saliva and feces, there are several other ways a human may become infected with the virus. Although rare, it is believed humans could become infected if bitten by a diseased rodent. If droppings contaminate a person’s food supply, her or she could become ill. Touching your mouth or nose after handling contaminated rodent droppings may also prove to be a means of infection. The best way to avoid the virus is to avoid the rodents that could be carrying it (CDC.gov pg. 2). Eliminating the rodent population in one’s area may be impossible; however, it is not unreasonable to reduce their numbers in or near one’s house. There are a few basic steps you can take to lower the number of rodents you may come in contact with. Keep one’s house clean, remove potential nesting sites, set traps inside and around one’s house, dispose of or store uneaten food, and encourage natural predators to live nearby (info1.html pg. 1). While hanta virus is not a common occurrence, it may appear to be overkill to go out of one’s
way preparing for it. Since it is believed that only rodents are carriers, many people think they will not come in contact with the virus (CDC.gov pg. 2). Unfortunately, this is not true. Rodents live an integral live alongside humans and can be found in nearly every climate and terrain on earth. Humans have no choice but to live alongside rodent and thus alongside the virus.
Hanta virus is a real and deadly disease. We have been living with it for thousands of years. While at the moment there are not any cases of the hanta virus, there is definitely the chance of a national crisis. By establishing safety codes that require testing for hanta virus in urban areas, and starting a public education program that informs and educates people about the danger of hanta virus, the government can significantly reduce the hanta virus hazard.
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Basic facts About HPS and the Hanta Virus. 9/26/1998. 11/8/99.
Brian Hjelle, MD. Hanta Virus, With Emphasis on Four Corners Hanta Virus. March
14th 1995. University of New Mexico School of Medicine. 11/8/99.
Dean Fraser, Viruses and Molecular Biology. (New York: Macmillan Company, 1967).