Introduction. The isolation by Ho Wang Lee and collaborators of the virus causing Korean haemorrhagic fever, now called Hantaan virus (HTN), from the lungs of striped field mice () in 1976 (Lee & Lee, 1976) launched a new era in the study of haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) throughout the world. This was soon followed by the discovery of the causative agent of the European form of HFRS, nephropathia epidemica, now known as Puumala virus (PUU) (Brummer-Korvenkontio , 1980), and of the urban rat virus, Seoul virus (SEO) (Lee , 1980). The identification in 1993 of Sin Nombre virus (SN) as the causative agent of hantavirus-associated pulmonary syndrome (HPS) (Nichol , 1993) led to intensive search for further hantaviruses and as a result today a total of as many as 16 well-established sero/genotypes may be listed.


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