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Hantavirus is a type of the virus which causes a very rare butserious and potentially fatal lung infection, called Hantavirus pulmonarysyndrome. People can be infected by breathing in the dust or air which isinfected with Hantavirus, and the main carriers are rodents. The situations inwhich people have been the carriers of this infection are very rare.

The first symptoms will appear between one and five weeks after aperson has been exposed to the virus, and they are similar to the symptoms ofordinary flu, which is why it is not so easy to make a distinction between theearly stage of Hantavirus and other viral conditions. However, the problem isin fact that these early symptoms, such as fever, chills, muscle aches, fastbreathing and heartbeat, progress very quickly and soon they are developed intomuch more serious problems which are related to the second stage of thisinfection, called cardiopulmonary stage. The cough is the main indicator ofthis, and the serious symptoms are shortness of breath, fluid which is buildingup in the lungs, cough which produces secretions, hypoxia or reduction ofoxygen, low blood pressure and multiorgan failure. In severe cases, it ispossible that the person will not be able to breathe at all, and it is possiblethat the suffocation may even cause the death. The seriousness of thiscondition is implied through the number of the fatal outcomes, because in morethan a half of the infected cases, the outcome is fatal.

As for the cure of Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, the options forthe treatment are very limited, but if the condition is diagnosed in an earlystage, the chances for successful recovery are much better. The infected personhas to be hospitalized. Supportive therapy consists of the assistedrespiration, because it helps a person to breathe and it protects againstpulmonary edema. This is necessary in severe cases. Blood oxygenation is alsonecessary, especially in serious cases, and it means that the blood of theinfected person will have to be pumped through a machine which will removecarbon dioxide and add oxygen. That way the blood will retain enough oxygen,and will be returned to the infected person.

There is no vaccine against Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, whichmeans that we have only one option at disposal if we want to avoid beinginfected, and that option is prevention, or staying away from the infectedareas.

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