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Argentina town hit by Hantavirus outbreak; 10 dead

By
Renzo Pipoli
A town in Argentina's Patagonia region, pictured, has become the epicenter of a breakout of the Hantavirus. Photo courtesy karinapontoriero/Pixabay/UPI
A town in Argentina's Patagonia region, pictured, has become the epicenter of a breakout of the Hantavirus. Photo courtesy karinapontoriero/Pixabay/UPI

Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A southwestern province in Argentina has been hit by what appears to be a Hantavirus epidemic that's killed ten people and sickened more than two dozen.

The ten dead include a Chilean national in Epuyen, about 1,080 miles southwest of Buenos Aires and the epicenter of the breakout, El Pais reported. This particular variation of Hantavirus is transmitted by wild rodent feces and saliva and person to person, the report said.

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About 100 Epuyen residents have been isolated by a judicial order. The town is located in the province of Chubut in the Patagonia region.

Two other unrelated and deadly cases of Hantavirus have also been reported -- one in the Salta region in northern Argentina and one in Entre Rios in the country's east.

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Hantavirus outbreaks have been seen in Argentina in recent years, with nearly 600 cases between 2013 and 2018 that killed 111 people. The mortality rate in the new breakout appears to be higher and has authorities concerned, El Pais reported.

Contagion occurs when rodent feces and urine mix with the earth, and can infect humans through inhalation of contaminated air. It can also infect humans through open wounds exposed to the air.

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The virus, endemic to Argentina, is particularly difficult to control because it's easily confused with regular flu and its incubation period is as long as three weeks.

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Two cases have also been confirmed in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentinian newspaper Clarin reported Thursday. Authorities said that number is within what could be expected normally, and the variants are different from those detected in Epuyen.

Last year, 25 cases of Hantavirus were reported in the Buenos Aires province, which experts say is also within the normal range.

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