Last updated: 23 November 2017, 10:14 am
The Ministry of Heath and Environment in Dominica has revealed it is waiting for test results to see whether an “unusual virus” has been detected on the island.
Hantaviruses are a group of viruses that are normally carried by rodents, such as rats, mice and voles.
They cause a range of diseases in humans ranging from mild, flu-like illness to severe respiratory illness or haemorrhagic disease with kidney involvement.
Dominica’s health ministry said that a preliminary test indicated that a strain of hantavirus had been found and “confirmatory tests” are now being undertaken at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia.
An epidemiological investigation has been unable to find any other cases in Dominica, it added.
Hantaviruses can cause two serious infections in humans: haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
A statement from the health ministry said that infection cannot be passed between humans.
“Rodent infestation in and around the home remains the primary risk for the virus exposure. The rodents shed the virus in their urine, droppings and saliva,” it read.
“Any activity that puts you in contact with rodents dropping, urine, saliva, or nesting material can place you at risk for infection.
“The virus can spread through inhalation of aerosolised particles of rat droppings.”
One Dominican media outlet has reported that a patient is believed to have died from a hantavirus-related condition at the country’s main hospital.