High prevalence of hantavirus infection in Indian communities of the Paraguayan and Argentinean Gran Chaco.

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  • 1 New Bolton Center, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square 19348, USA.

Serologic evidence of past infection with a Sin Nombre-like hantavirus(es) was demonstrated in 78 (40.4%) of 193 Indians living in western Paraguay and in 38 (17.1%) of 222 Indians inhabiting the Salta province of northern Argentina. In both populations seroprevalence increased with age, with the most striking increase occurring at 18 years of age in the Paraguayan population and at 35 years of age in the Salta population. The peak prevalences in both populations (66.6% and 44.0%, respectively) were seen in Indians > 53 years old. Although no sex difference was observed in the Paraguayan Indians, in the Salta population seroprevalence was greater in males than in females. Familiar clustering of the infection was observed. The data indicate that the Indian populations of the Gran Chaco are frequently exposed to and survive infection with a Sin Nombre-like virus(es). Possible explanations of this novel epidemiology are discussed.