Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), a severe respiratory disease with high mortality caused by rodent-borne hantaviruses, has previously been identified in the United States and Canada as well as central and southern South America. In late 1999 and early 2000, an outbreak of acute illness compatible with HPS was reported in Los Santos, Panama, with the death of 3 of the 12 (25%) suspected cases. Hantavirus-specific antibodies were detected in patient sera, and virus RNA was detected by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Sequence analysis of virus genome N-, G1-, and G2-encoding fragments showed this to be a novel hantavirus, Choclo virus. Serologic and virus genetic analyses of rodents trapped in the area showed Oligoryzomys fulvescens to be the likely reservoir for the HPS-associated Choclo virus. In addition, Zygodontomys brevicauda rodents were shown to harbor another genetically unique hantavirus, Calabazo virus. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
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