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J Med Microbiol. 2000 Jul;49(7):587-99.


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Regional Virus Laboratory, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.


Since the recognition of the hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in the USA in 1993, interest in hantavirus diseases has intensified worldwide. It is clear that hantaviruses have been historically responsible for a variety of human illnesses. Hantaviruses form a separate genus within the Bunyaviridae family. There are currently >20 recognised sero/genotypes and many others are under investigation. Each hantavirus type appears to be specific to a different rodent host. Virus phylogeny very closely reflects rodent phylogeny. The different hantavirus types are associated with different types of disease both in terms of target organs and disease severity. Two major diseases are recognised: haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and HPS. HFRS is primarily a disease of the old world while HPS is only recognised in the Americas. Over the past few decades the understanding and recognition of hantavirus disease throughout the world have greatly expanded. The number of recognised virus types continues to grow, as does the spectrum of hantavirus disease. There is evidence of hantavirus causing human disease in the British Isles, but at present it remains a largely uncharacterised disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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