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Curr Mol Med. 2005 Dec;5(8):773-90.

Hantaviruses: molecular biology, evolution and pathogenesis.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and Cell and Molecular Biology Program, School of Medicine, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557, USA.


Hantaviruses are tri-segmented negative sense single stranded RNA viruses that belong to the family Bunyaviridae. In nature, hantaviruses are exclusively maintained in the populations of their specific rodent hosts. In their natural host species, hantaviruses usually develop a persistent infection with prolonged virus shedding in excreta. Humans become infected by inhaling virus contaminated aerosol. Unlike asymptomatic infection in rodents, hantaviruses cause two acute febrile diseases in humans: hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). The mortality rate varies from 0.1% to 40% depending on the virus involved. Hantaviruses are distributed world wide, with over 150,000 HFRS and HPS cases being registered annually. In this review we summarize current knowledge on hantavirus molecular biology, epidemiology, genetic diversity and co-evolution with rodent hosts. In addition, special attention was given in this review to describing clinical manifestation of HFRS and HPS, and advances in our current understanding of the host immune response, treatment, and prevention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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