A 30-year-old woman from the town of Epuben Chubut died at the Esquel hospital and thus became the fifth fatal victim of hantavirus. since mid-December, when health warnings were declared for disease outbreaks in the country.
For the same disease, there are two people in intensive care and three in the intermediate therapy room at the Esquel health center, a city located in the Andes mountains. In all Chubut there have been 13 cases.
But this virus exists in almost all national areas. In Argentina, three endemic areas have been identified: North (Salta, Jujuy), Centro (Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Entre Ríos) and Sur (Neuquén, Río Negro and Chubut).
According to the Secretary of National Health, between 2013-2018 there were 192 cases in the province of Buenos Aires; 191 in Salta; 97 in Jujuy and 41 in Santa Fe. These provinces lead the ranking in the number of confirmed cases infected by the virus. There are 1,440 cases throughout the country.
In their portfolios they explained to this newspaper that hantavirus is a serious acute viral disease, which is caused by the Hanta virus. Wild rats (especially long-tailed ones) transmit them to people, eliminate viruses in saliva, feces and urine.
Symptoms resemble the flu: fever, muscle aches, cold, headache (headache) nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
After a few days there may be a respiratory disorder that can be aggravated by producing what is known as "Cardiopulmonary syndrome due to hantavirus", which can cause death if the person is not treated on time.
Laura Barcán, head of the Infectology section of the Italian Hospital, explained to Los Andes that the death rate was "high" because there is no specific treatment, there is no medication on time, and no matter how quickly someone acts, "it is a very complicated picture".
In Argentina, the first case of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) was recorded in 1995 and since then has been the country in South America with the highest number of reported cases, according to official data.
Emilio Alvar, a 37-year-old painter who suffered from this disease in November 2017 in the city of Merlo, Buenos Aires, told the newspaper that he was in a pharmacological coma for 35 days. And after leaving the hospital, more than a year ago, he still hadn't fully recovered.
His muscles stopped developing in the hospital and he had to do rehabilitation. Even though he recovered physically today, he suffered from dizziness and panic attacks which prevented him from returning to work.
Barcan infection expert He said that if someone would enter places that were closed for a long time, it was recommended to leave them open for half an hour and then enter with a damp cloth on the nose and mouth to avoid breathing secretions.
That line, explains that in case someone is sick in the family, you have to use a barrier like chinstraps.
With regard to the affected area and the possibility that the virus spreads through various parts of the country, Barcan said that this was closely related to the destruction of the natural environment in which mice live. For example, in areas where there is large forest clearance, rats approach urban areas.
Chubut health authority They strengthened the preventative task and extended standby for 90 days, until next March. And they work together with the Health Contingency Committee, which consists of national and provincial health portfolio technicians and authorities.
Too, experts from the Malbran Institute traveled to the area to collaborate with doctors Esquel, Epuyén hospitals and other rural hospitals in the Andes Region, through multidisciplinary work desks.
There it was agreed to continue with the tasks of investigation, evaluation and redefinition of actions that began on December 3, before the epidemiological contingency due to the outbreak of this infection transmitted by mice.
After evaluating the status of the situation, experts define lines of action related to epidemiological, psychosocial and communication aspects to continue work with the community, including the health team and various regional institutions.
On the other hand, director of Esquel's Programatic Area, Jorge Elías, He acknowledged that "the day-to-day situation is very complex, especially in Epuyén", the northwestern region of Chubut, the place of origin of those who contracted hantavirus.