A mysterious respiratory illness with high mortality was recently reported in the southwestern United States. Serologic studies implicated the hantaviruses, rodent-borne RNA viruses usually associated elsewhere in the world with hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. A genetic detection assay amplified hantavirus-specific DNA fragments from RNA extracted from the tissues of patients and deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) caught at or near patient residences. Nucleotide sequence analysis revealed the associated virus to be a new hantavirus and provided a direct genetic link between infection in patients and rodents.
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