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Kelly Contributes to Hantavirus Research

Aug. 15, 2011 – Marcella Kelly, associate professor of wildlife, contributed research to an article reporting two cases of Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in West Virginia. HPS is a rare cardiopulmonary disease most commonly transmitted to humans through rodents. The article summarizes two cases in an effort to stress effective methods of reducing exposure to Hantavirus.

In the first case, a 32-year-old Virginia Tech wildlife science graduate student was hospitalized after suffering from fever, cough, and chest pain. According to fellow students, he had recently handled mice for research without consistently wearing gloves or washing hands after contact. He did not survive past his third day of hospitalization. In the second case, a 41-year-old father who had returned from a weekend trip with his family to a log cabin suffered from similar symptoms upon hospitalization. During his trip, he had rid the cabin of multiple rat infestations. After testing positive for HPS and receiving appropriate treatment, the patient experienced a full recovery. Researchers studied the areas in which both patients had been and found multiple populations of small mammals carrying the Hantavirus.

A total of 560 cases Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome have been reported in 31 states since it was first identified in 1993; 36 percent of those cases were fatal. Kelly and her co-contributors to the article seek to inform the public of preventative measures when handling rodents in an effort to reduce the risks of contracting HPS.

    CNRE Newsmagazine Summer 2011 Cover

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