Explore BrainMass

Case Study: What might have killed him?

I am going over a case study in a book, and am having a bit of difficulty solving this one scenario.


A young-athletic man in his early 20's is helped into the hospital by his girlfriend.

He is feverish and his breathing is labored.

The symptoms began about 24 hours ago and seemed to worsen quickly.

Triage nurse assumes pneumonia.

45 minutes he is suffering from acute respiratory distress.

Later that same evening the patient dies.

Lab work reveals that the cause of the death was not bacterial.

No other cases of this type are reported for the summer.

1.What might have killed him?

2.What other facts might the nurse have acquired to try and determine the nature of the infection?

3.What is the transmission characteristics of the suspected agent?

I am thinking either Hantavirus, or SARS... but the onset of death seems to fast for SARS, and becuase SARS is so easily transmissible and there was only the one case this summer- I am leaning towards Hantavirus. Am I missing anything? Do you have any input on this case and the 3 questions?

Solution Preview

Looking at the few symptoms that are given, I think hantavirus is a better guess for the case.

1. Hantavirus is contracted solely through environmental contact with rodent droppings or urine. Therefore, isolated cases are generally the rule rather than the exception. In addition, the summer is generally when people would be coming into contact with cleaning up (especially sweeping) rodent droppings.

2. Hantavirus has an incubation period of 1-5 weeks, but symptoms appear suddenly. Fever and shortness of breath are the symptoms that patients usually present with.

3. Diagnosis of hantavirus is made with an antibody blood test (both IgG and ...