Alberta Hantavirus

Dr. R. Marusyk rmarusyk at mercury.uah.ualberta.ca
Wed Oct 12 09:59:46 EST 1994


Alberta Hantavirus

Those of you with access to Canadian news services will have read that a
recent confirmed Hantavirus (pulmonary manifestation) case/death in
Alberta has caused a virtual panic amongst the hoi polloi. The confirmed
case was semi-retired individual living in the country west of Edmonton.
He apparently was in contact with deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatis)
approximately one week previous to being hospitalized. 

The Edmonton Board of Health has set up a Hantavirus Hot Line and has
been inundated with calls - many from individuals who think they have
seen a mouse. The print and radio/TV media types havent helped the
situation too much, as we are seeing headlines that say "MICE KILL" and
so on. 

Unfortunately, the long-established presence of Hantaviruses in these
parts has been largely ignored. Dan McLeod, now at the Viral Oncology
Lab at the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control in Ottawa, when he was
in charge of the large influenza serum bank at LCDC had supplied sera to
H-W Lee (the Hantavirus man) for a retrospective study of the
seroprevalence of Hantavirus antibody in the Canadian population. That
study (published in the Canadian Journal of Microbiology in 1984 (30:
1137-40) clearly showed that the virus was here. However, the
powers-that-be declined to fund further investigation as, in their
opinion, the virus DID NOT EXIST in Canada. Carleton Gajdusek, who was
visiting here about that time, commented that he would like to see the
fence along the Canada-US border that was used to stop the
hantavirus-carrying rodents from crossing! 

Raymond G Marusyk
Professor of Virology
Microbiology & Public Health
University of Alberta Hospitals
Edmonton, Alberta
 





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