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Hum Pathol. 1995 Jan;26(1):110-20.

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in the United States: a pathological description of a disease caused by a new agent.

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Department of Pathology, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque 87131-5091.


An outbreak of an acute respiratory disease in the southwestern United States has led to the recognition of a new hantaviral illness. This report describes a unique spectrum of antemortem and postmortem pathological findings seen in a case series of nine surviving patients and 13 who died. Clinical, laboratory, and autopsy findings were derived from a consecutive series of individuals confirmed to have hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Laboratory studies included chemical, hematological, and bone marrow analyses as well as flow cytometric and immunohistochemical phenotyping. Autopsy tissues were examined by routine histological stains, immunohistochemical methods, and transmission electron microscopy. The lung is the primary target organ in this illness. Pulmonary abnormalities include pleural effusions, alveolar edema and fibrin, and an interstitial mononuclear cell infiltrate. Large immunoblast type cells are seen in the lungs, blood, bone marrow, lymph nodes, liver, and spleen. A tetrad of hematological findings includes left-shifted neutrophilic leukocytosis, thrombocytopenia, hemoconcentration in severe cases, and circulating immunoblasts. In contrast to previously described nephropathic hantaviral syndromes, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is characterized by a unique constellation of pulmonary, hematological, and reticuloendothelial pathological findings. The pulmonary findings are distinguishable from fatal adult respiratory distress syndrome. The data suggest a capillary leak syndrome restricted to the pulmonary circulation. Likewise, the hematological picture is unique and may be valuable in the rapid identification of cases for further diagnostic studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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