Los Santos province, on the Azuero Peninsula of Panama reported an increase in hantavirus cases in 2018, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) Disease Outbreak News release today.

Los Santos, Panama Image/ Rgarciacq at Wikimedia commons
Los Santos, Panama
Image/ Rgarciacq at Wikimedia commons

In 2018, of the 103 confirmed hantavirus cases reported nationally, 99 cases, or 96 percent were reported from the province. The remaining cases were reported in Herrera, Cocle and Veraguas provinces.

Nearly half the cases (48) were classified as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), and four fatalities were recorded.

Hantavirus cases have been reported in Panama since 1999.

WHO notes that the current increase in hantavirus cases in the Republic of Panama could be related to changes in the abundance and distribution of rodent species, as well as strengthened surveillance and laboratory capacity at the provincial level.

The public health responses currently being implemented include investigation and monitoring of cases, including case management; enhanced surveillance and active case finding; rodent control and mitigation measures and increasing awareness and health promotion in the affected areas.