HealthDay News — Individuals in certain occupations and in certain populations may be more at risk of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, according to research published in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Annabelle de St. Maurice, MD, from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues assessed demographics and rodent exposure settings for 662 case-patients with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome during 1993 to 2015 using national surveillance system data.

The researchers found that 18% of case-patients were American-Indians, and case-fatality rates were higher for American-Indians than for whites (46% vs 33%). Rodent exposures were reported by case-patients in the home, at work, or in a recreational setting (71%, 32%, and 24%, respectively); 7% of rodent exposures were attributed to cars, trailers, or mobile homes. 

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In 17% of cases, patients reported having cleaned rodent-infected areas. Fifty-three percent of those whose exposure was work related had jobs with potential risks for rodent exposure. Case-patients residing in the eastern United States had a significantly higher proportion of recreational exposures than in the western United States (47% vs 23%).

“Regionally and culturally appropriate educational materials can be used to direct prevention messages to persons in these risk groups,” the researchers write.

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De St Maurice A, Ervin E, Schumacher M, et al. Exposure characteristics of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome patients, United States, 1993-2015. Emerg Infect Dis. 2017;23:733-739. doi: 10.3201/eid2305.161770