Ministry of Health: hantavirus in Los Santos

103 cases of hantavirus have been reported in Panama between December 22 2018 and January 1 2019.

The Ministry of Health has reported the increase in cases of the hantavirus infection in Los Santos Province,  to the Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization. Of the103 confirmed cases at the national level, 99 were individuals in the Los Santos Province. In Los Santos, 51 cases were classified as hantavirus fever1 (HF), while 48 cases were classified as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome2 (HPS). There have been four deaths from HPS.

The four deaths were reported among HPS cases in two females and two males all over 60 years of age.

The WHO reported "cases were confirmed by serology and polymerase chain reaction (PCR)3." and that "Sequencing determined that the type of virus associated with this outbreak is Choclo virus."

According to Wikipedia "Choclo virus (CHOV) is a single-stranded, negative-sense RNA zoonotic New World hantavirus." Choclo virus was first in the Western provinces of Panama 1999, marking the first appearance of Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in Central America.

Over the last five years, the transmission of the virus has been documented in Los Santos, Herrera, Veraguas, and Cocle. In 2018, cases were reported in Los Santos (99), Herrera (two), Cocle (one) and Veraguas (one ).

Hantavirus is transmitted by the saliva of infected rodents so transmission can occur from contact with rodent habitats. With increased cases of hantavirus cases in Panama, particularly Los Santos there could be an increase in the rodent population or a change in their distribution. Scientists believe food contaminated by urine, droppings, or saliva from an infected rodent can result in transmission.