WHO warns of deadly rat-borne hantavirus in Argentina

At least 11 people have died in Argentina after becoming infected with hantavirus, a disease carried by rats and other rodents, according to a news alert from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Among 29 cases of the disease confirmed with laboratory tests between late October 2018 and Jan. 20, 2019, almost 60 percent were in women or girls, the WHO said.

Around 50 percent of these confirmed cases - all of which were in Epuyén, in southern Argentina's Chubut province - reported symptoms within the past three weeks.

"Potential human-to-human transmission is currently under investigation," the WHO said.

There is no treatment, cure or vaccine for hantavirus infection, and the case-fatality rate can reach 35-50 percent.

The WHO advised health authorities in the region to be vigilant and to step up efforts to detect, investigate, manage and control cases of the disease. It said particular attention should be given to travelers returning from affected areas.

Hantavirus is a viral respiratory disease usually acquired through contact with infected rat droppings or saliva of infected rodents. It is characterized by headaches, dizziness, fever, nausea, diarrhea and stomach pain, followed by the sudden onset of severe respiratory symptoms.

9 PHOTOS
Pollution crisis in West Java, Indonesia
See Gallery
Pollution crisis in West Java, Indonesia
Elementary student rides a bicycle near Pisang Batu river, Bekasi, West Java on Tuesday (08/01) Pisang Batu river at Pahlawan Setia Village in Bekasi Regency, West Java becomes a 1.5 kilometre plastics garbage-canal since last month. (Photo by Mas Agung Wilis/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Stockpile of Garbages at Pisang Batu River In Tarumajaya District-Bekasi, Indonesia, on 13 January 2019. Throwing garbage into the river by Indonesian People is a very common attitude that can not change since the awareness about the important of the river will always lack for the society. In Jokowidodo Administration nature protection and conservation is not one of the focusing of his administration. Indonesian people mostly also not care about the important of clean environment and the dangerous of plastic waste and the dangerous of littering (Photo by Donal Husni/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Scenery on the banks of Pisang Batu river in Bekasi, West Java on Tuesday (08/01) According to reports, the Indonesian Plastic Industry Association (INAPLAS) and the Indonesian Central Statistics Agency (BPS), plastic waste in Indonesia reaches 64 million tons per year. 3.2 million tons of plastic waste are dumped into the sea, and around 85,000 tons of plastic bags are wasted into the environment or land. (Photo by Mas Agung Wilis/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Elementary student rides a bicycle near Pisang Batu river, Bekasi, West Java on Tuesday (08/01) Pisang Batu river at Pahlawan Setia Village in Bekasi Regency, West Java becomes a 1.5 kilometre plastics garbage-canal since last month. (Photo by Mas Agung Wilis/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Stockpile of Garbages at Pisang Batu River In Tarumajaya District-Bekasi, Indonesia, on 13 January 2019. Throwing garbage into the river by Indonesian People is a very common attitude that can not change since the awareness about the important of the river will always lack for the society. In Jokowidodo Administration nature protection and conservation is not one of the focusing of his administration. Indonesian people mostly also not care about the important of clean environment and the dangerous of plastic waste and the dangerous of littering (Photo by Donal Husni/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Heavy equipment cleaning pisang batu river garbage-canal. Local government administration together cleaning Pisang Batu river from heavy garbages on Tuesday (08/01) They use two heavy equipment and hundreds of trucks. (Photo by Mas Agung Wilis/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Stockpile of Garbages at Pisang Batu River In Tarumajaya District-Bekasi, Indonesia, on 13 January 2019. Throwing garbage into the river by Indonesian People is a very common attitude that can not change since the awareness about the important of the river will always lack for the society. In Jokowidodo Administration nature protection and conservation is not one of the focusing of his administration. Indonesian people mostly also not care about the important of clean environment and the dangerous of plastic waste and the dangerous of littering (Photo by Donal Husni/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Stockpile of Garbages at Pisang Batu River In Tarumajaya District-Bekasi, Indonesia, on 13 January 2019. Throwing garbage into the river by Indonesian People is a very common attitude that can not change since the awareness about the important of the river will always lack for the society. In Jokowidodo Administration nature protection and conservation is not one of the focusing of his administration. Indonesian people mostly also not care about the important of clean environment and the dangerous of plastic waste and the dangerous of littering (Photo by Donal Husni/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Elementary student rides a bicycle near Pisang Batu river, Bekasi, West Java on Tuesday (08/01) Pisang Batu river at Pahlawan Setia Village in Bekasi Regency, West Java becomes a 1.5 kilometre plastics garbage-canal since last month. (Photo by Mas Agung Wilis/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story