Argentine hemorrhagic fever is caused by the Junin virus and is endemic (continuously present) in Argentina. The virus was first reported in Buenos Aires in 1958 and since then there have been 23 reported outbreaks of the virus. The virus is spread by asymptomatic (no signs or symptoms) corn mice when particles from its urine or saliva get into the air and are inhaled by humans. The disease may then spread from person-to-person through contact with infected body fluids and tissues.
The incubation period (time from exposure to virus to first symptoms) can range from 5 to 14 days. Symptoms of the virus may include chills, fever, headache, dizziness, chest pain, back pain, abdominal pain, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and a general feeling of malaise (tiredness and feelings of not being well, being uncomfortable and weak). As the disease progresses, the person may develop a high fever, dehydration, hypotension, flushed skin, abnormally slow heartbeat, or bleeding from the gums and internal tissues.
Diagnosis of Argentine hemorrhagic fever may involve examining medical and travel history as well as laboratory tests to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment may include hydration, rest, warmth, and adequate nutrition. Supportive therapy and antiviral drugs may also help prevent complications. A vaccine for the virus became available in 1990 and is therefore a method of prevention for contracting the virus. Prevention of the virus can also involve guarding against rodents including keeping food covered, disposing of garbage and mowing grass regularly. Talk with a physician before traveling to Argentina or another developing country to ensure that you are up to date on the recommended vaccinations and are aware of preventative measures. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with Argentine hemorrhagic fever, talk with your doctor about the most current treatment options and what you can do to avoid spreading the infection to others.