Center for Global Health

1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Phone: (505) 272-8207
Fax: (505) 272-8441

Hantavirus research in Chile and Panama

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome histopathology (CDC)

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome histopathology.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention image.

Under the direction of Dr. Gregory Mertz, Professor of Internal Medicine and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, the International Collaborations in Infectious Diseases Research (ICIDR) program project grant, Hantavirus ecology and disease in Chile and Panama (2 U19 A1045452), has been funded since 1999 and is currently funded through April 2010.  The following are highlights of these activities:

  • Project 1 (G Glass, Project Leader) focuses on the ecology of rodent reservoirs of Andes and Choclo viruses in Chile and Panama, development of fine-scale, dynamic predictive models for transmission of these hantaviruses from rodents to humans, and the seroepidemiology and natural history of Choclo virus infection in humans in Panama.  
  • Project 2 (Greg Mertz, Project leader) focuses on the treatment and prevention of HCPS. The group is conducting a placebo-controlled trial of intravenous methylprednisolone for treatment of HCPS in the cardiopulmonary stage. Treatment and prophylaxis trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of treatment with plasma containing high neutralizing antibody titers are also planned. The treatment studies will be similar to the controlled trial of methylprednisolone, and the prophylaxis trial will be conducted in household contacts at high risk of HCPS following contact with an index case with confirmed HCPS.
  • Project 3 (Brian Hjelle, Project leader) involves prospective studies in household contacts at risk of HCPS designed to further define risk factors for person-to-person transmission, as well as the route of transmission.  

Collaborating institutions include UNM, USAMRIID, LRRI, Johns Hopkins University in the US, Gorgas Memorial Institute in Panama, and P. Universidad Catolica, U. del Desarrollo, U. de la Frontera, and the Ministry of Health in Chile. Facilities at the Gorgas Institute include molecular virology, small mammal and primate animal facilities, and an insectary with the vectors of malaria and Chagas disease.

Facilities in Chile include the virology/immunology core (Brian Hjelle, Core leader), including two BSL-3 laboratories, the biostatistics core (S-J Lee, Core leader), long-term ecology monitoring sites in place since 2000, and a stable network of clinical research sites at hospitals throughout central and southern Chile. Opportunities for field research experiences through the UNM/Chile/Panama ICIDR are extensive and include many opportunities for involvement with ongoing, approved interdisciplinary research.