A total of 31 Hantavirus cases have been confirmed in Los Santos province since the beginning of the year (as of June 9). The district of Tonosí has been particularly hard hit. To compare, a total of 23 cases were reported in the province in all of 2017. This relatively high case rate is due to the cyclical nature of the disease, transmission rates of which tend to spike every four years.
Hantavirus is spread via the urine, saliva, and feces of infected rodents and is contracted via contact with contaminated surfaces or via inhalation of contaminated air. The most common symptoms of the virus are similar to those of influenza: fever, muscle aches, and fatigue. Other possible symptoms include headache, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Hantavirus is fatal in roughly one-third of cases.
Those present in Panama should avoid exposure to potentially rodent-infested areas (e.g. barns, camp sites, construction sites, garbage dumps); make sure any outdoor garbage cans are properly covered and the area kept clean; regularly air out any structures that may have rodent infestations (barns, garages, etc.); and properly store foodstuffs. Individuals exhibiting the aforementioned symptoms are advised to seek immediate medical treatment.