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Virology. 1998 Feb 15;241(2):323-30.

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome outbreak in Argentina: molecular evidence for person-to-person transmission of Andes virus.

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Dpto. de Virología, Instituto Nacional de Enfermedades Infecciosas, A.N.L.I.S. Dr. Carlos G. Maibrán, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


An increase of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) cases around a southwestern Argentina town and in persons living 1400 km away but in contact with those cases was detected during the spring of 1996. In order to evaluate person-to-person transmission we compared the homology of PCR-amplified viral sequences of 26 Argentine and Chilean cases. Sixteen of them were epidemiologically linked cases and had the same sequence (Epilink/96) in the S segment 3' noncoding region and in the M segment partial G1 and G2 region (a total of 1075 nucleotides). Contrarily, two geographical and contemporary but nonepidemiologically related cases differed from Epilink/96 in the compared regions. No significant differences, such as glycosylation or hydrophilic pattern, were found between Epilink/96 and the other sequences. Nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequence homologies between samples from southern Argentina and Chile ranged from 90.9 to 100% and 96.4 to 100%, respectively. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that all the analyzed southwestern viruses belong to the Andes lineage. Although human infection principally occurs via inhalation of contaminated rodent excreta, our results with Andes virus show the first direct genetic evidence of person-to-person transmission of a hantavirus.

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