Argentina recently observed a unique occurrence of successive Hantavirus cases in Epuyén, all of which were related in time and place. Most recent media sources have reported five confirmed cases of hantavirus in the area.
On December 4th, 2018, the HealthMap system noticed media reports from Esquel, Argentina about a suspected fatal hantavirus case in a 14-year-old girl from Epuyén who was hospitalized on December 1st with digestive symptoms and died the following day. Media at the time had also reported on an additional confirmed case, who was discharged from a hospital, and five more suspected cases from the same locality. Three of the suspected cases were hospitalized in intensive care but were under stable condition, another was a general patient and the last was an outpatient. In circumstances of unknown, possible or rumored diseases or outbreaks, data analysts from HealthMap can request for more information (RFI) to the EpiCore platform, which includes a virtual community of health professionals who can provide more information locally on the event. After initial surveillance was collected by the HealthMap system on the hantavirus health event in Argentina, a data analyst in HealthMap sent an RFI through EpiCore.
As many as seven updates were received from a single EpiCore member in response to the RFI, with most updates including links to media sources on the information. The EpiCore network confirmed the event and provided detailed information, summarized below:
The cases reported were all from the same area in Epuyén, Chubut province, Argentina. On December 6th, media quoting local health authorities provided preliminary information stating that at the time, two cases had already been confirmed with Hantavirus, while four cases still remained under investigation (three of these were admitted patients and one death). The suspected fatal case was confirmed in the following days, bringing the total count number of confirmed cases to three. In the next days, two more cases were confirmed, bringing the total confirmed cases to five as of December 1st. The five confirmed cases included one fatal case, two admitted patients and two discharged patients with several other suspected cases having been ruled out. Most cases seemed to be “linked in time and location” in Epuyén, with more recent sources indicating the link was related to attendance of a birthday party celebration. The EpiCore network also provided the link to an official web-video press release where local health authorities have confirmed all the information and reported about the ongoing response activities (https://www.facebook.com/noticiasdelacomarca/videos/790714537942530/).
As a result of the information provided by the EpiCore responder, the public health event was verified as positive and further confirmed with updates and media reports, including a Facebook video. This work was all thanks to the dedication of a specific EpiCore member who provided RFI requesters with consistent updates on media and health authority reports. HealthMap will continue to keep you updated and informed on their surveillance work in collaboration with EpiCore through these featured RFI series. Stay tuned for more confirmed disease and outbreak events occurring globally, here on Disease Daily.