Rats in Vietnam metro test positive for deadly hantavirus

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The Pasteur Institute Ho Chi Minh City has found the potentially fatal hantavirus among rats caught near the house where a man who was successfully treated for the virus last month.

Three of 25 rats caught in District 3's Ward 9 tested positive for hantavirus, VnExpress quoted an unnamed representative of the institute as saying.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hantaviruses common to Asia can cause Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome (HFRS), which proves fatal 5-15 percent of the time.

People become infected through contact with hantavirus-infected rodents, their urine or droppings.

On November 8, the HCMC Hospital for Tropical Diseases confirmed that a 55-year-old patient, identified only as T, had contracted hantavirus.

T was admitted to the hospital with a high fever and skin rashes. Doctors had initially diagnosed him with dengue fever, a mosquito-borne illness, before administering tests at the Pasteur Institute, which showed T had hantavirus.

Doctors said T recovered after ten days of treatment and was discharged from the hospital in late October.

T said he had been bitten by a rat while sleeping at home.

The information has prompted the Pasteur Institute to conduct the test on rats and house mice it collected near his house.

The three samples that tested positive for hantavirus all came from rats, the institute representative said.

Dr. Vo Minh Quang of the HCMC Hospital for Tropical Diseases said they have treated several other patients with hantavirus in the past.

He said the virus is difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are so similar to dengue fever.

Quang said there is no antiviral treatment for hantavirus, but that with early detection and proper medical care, patients can recover within two weeks.

The Pasteur Institute recommends that people use mosquito nets when sleeping to avoid being bitten by rats, which are also carriers of bubonic plague and other deadly diseases, and maintain strict hygiene to eliminate the presence of rodents in the home.

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