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n. one of a genus of viruses that infect rats, mice, and voles and cause disease in humans when the secretions or excreta of these rodents are inhaled or ingested. The disease was first reported from the area of the Hantaan river, which separates North from South Korea, but hantavirus infections also occur in Japan, China, Russia, Europe, and the USA: in Britain it can affect farm, nature conservancy, and sewage workers and those engaged in water sports. The symptoms vary according to the strain of the infecting virus. Many patients have a mild influenza-like illness, but severe cases are characterized by high fever, headache, shock, nausea and vomiting, and petechiae in the skin; there may be kidney pain and rapidly progressive kidney damage leading to kidney failure. A particularly virulent strain in the USA attacks the lungs, leading to rapid respiratory failure. The mortality rate in these severe cases is high.

Subjects: Medicine and Health.

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