(Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome)
by Krisha McCoy, MS
Hantavirus is a serious lung infection.
Hantavirus is caused by a virus. It is transmitted when a person comes into contact with rodents that are infected with the virus, or infected rodents' urine or droppings. In the United States, the deer mouse is the rodent most likely to carry hantavirus infection. Hantavirus infection cannot be passed between humans.
Factors that may increase your chance of hantavirus infection include:
Hantavirus infection may cause:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include blood tests and/or chest x-rays.
There is no specific treatment for hantavirus infection. Treatment will focus on treating your symptoms, providing breathing support, and making you comfortable.
The best way to prevent hantavirus infection is to control rodent infestation in and around your home. This involves sealing rodent entry holes or gaps with steel wool, lath metal, or caulk, trapping rodents using snap traps, and cleaning rodent food sources and nesting sites. In addition, take the following precautions when cleaning rodent-infested areas:
It is helpful to be aware of activities that may put you in contact with infected mice, their droppings, and their urine. This may include returning tools to sheds, caring for animals in barns, and sweeping or cleaning building spaces. Farm workers may also be at risk from deer mouse bites. While common house mice have not proven to be major carriers of the virus, deer mice are often found in park areas, even within cities. Follow the precautions above when entering spaces that may be contaminated.
American Lung Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Public Health Agency of Canada
Cleaning up after rodents. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/rodents/cleaning/index.html. Updated August 21, 2012. Accessed December 7, 2017.
Cline BJ, Carver S, Douglass RJ. Relationship of human behavior within outbuildings to potential exposure to Sin Nombre virus in Western Montana. Ecohealth. 2010;7(3):389-393.
Dizney L, Jones PD, Ruedas LA. Natural history of Sin Nombre virus infection in deer mice in urban parks in Oregon. J Wildl Dis. 2010;46(2):433-441.
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated July 17, 2017. Accessed December 7, 2017.
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/hps. Updated February 6, 2013. Accessed December 7, 2017.
Mills JN, Amman BR, Glass GE. Ecology of hantaviruses and their hosts in North America. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2010;10(6):563-574.
Simpson SQ, Spikes L, Patel S, Faruqi I. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2010;24(1):159-173.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 11/11/2015
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