To provide a potentially therapeutic intervention and to collect clinical and laboratory data during an outbreak of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), 140 patients from the United States with suspected HPS were enrolled for investigational intravenous ribavirin treatment. HPS was subsequently laboratory confirmed in 30 persons and not confirmed in 105 persons with adequate specimens. Patients with HPS were significantly more likely than were hantavirus-negative patients to report myalgias from onset of symptoms through hospitalization, nausea at outpatient presentation, and diarrhea and nausea at the time of hospitalization; they were significantly less likely to report respiratory symptoms early in the illness. The groups did not differ with regard to time from the onset of illness to the point at which they sought care; time from onset, hospitalization, or enrollment to death was significantly shorter for patients with HPS. At the time of hospitalization, patients with HPS more commonly had myelocytes, metamyelocytes, or promyelocytes on a peripheral blood smear, and significantly more of them had thrombocytopenia, hemoconcentration, and hypocapnia. Patterns of clinical symptoms, the pace of clinical evolution, and specific clinical laboratory parameters discriminated between these 2 groups.
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