Serological evidence of hantavirus infection in apparently healthy people from rural and slum communities in southern Chile.


Hantavirus disease in America has been recognizable because of its rapid progression in clinical cases, occurrence in previously healthy young adults, and high case fatality rate. Hantavirus disease has been proposed now to define the diversity of clinical manifestations. Since 1995, a total of 902 cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome have been reported in Chile, caused by Andes virus (ANDV), with overall fatality of 32%. This report describes the sero-epidemiology of hantavirus in apparently healthy people in rural and urban slum communities from southern Chile. Ten of 934 samples yielded a positive result resulting in a seroprevalence of 1.07% (95% confidence intervals: 0.05%-2.0%). A higher proportion of positive samples was found among individuals from rural villages (1.3%) and slums (1.5%) compared with farms (0.5%). Seropositivity was associated with age (p = 0.011), low education level (p = 0.006) and occupations linked to the household (homemaker, retired, or student) (p = 0.016). No evidence of infection was found in 38 sigmodontinae rodents trapped in the peri-domestic environment. Our findings highlight that exposure risk was associated with less documented risk factors, such as women in slum and rural villages, and the occurrence of infection that may have presented as flu-like illness that did not require medical attention or was misdiagnosed.

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