How Hantavirus Spread? What Are Symptoms, Treatment

What is Hantavirus ?

The Centre for Disease Control says that the virus is spread mainly from rodents. It goes on to say that infection with any of the hantavirus can cause hantavirus disease in people.

“Hantaviruses in the Americas are known as “New World” hantaviruses and may cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Other hantaviruses, known as “Old World” hantaviruses, are found mostly in Europe and Asia and may cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS),” the CDC website said.

The hantavirus case comes at a time when the total count of those infected by novel coronavirus globally is nearing the 400,000 mark and scientists are yet to find a cure for it. The global death toll has crossed the 16,500 mark.

Hantavirus : Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Hantavirus Symptoms

Due to the small number of HPS cases, the “incubation time” is not positively known. However, on the basis of limited information, it appears that symptoms may develop between 1 and 8 weeks after exposure to fresh urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents.

Early Symptoms

Early symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups—thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders. These symptoms are universal.

There may also be headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. About half of all HPS patients experience these symptoms.

Late Symptoms

Four to 10 days after the initial phase of illness, the late symptoms of HPS appear. These include coughing and shortness of breath, with the sensation of, as one survivor put it, a “…tight band around my chest and a pillow over my face” as the lungs fill with fluid.

Is the Disease Fatal?

Yes. HPS can be fatal. It has a mortality rate of 38%.


Since HPS affects a small population, the “incubation” period is unknown. In most recorded cases, symptoms develop 1 to 8 weeks after exposure. Early symptoms, such as fever, dry cough, body aches, headaches, diarrhea and abdominal pain, are similar to many other viral illnesses. This may prevent an HPS diagnosis before the illness progresses.

If the initial symptoms are not connected to hantavirus exposure and are left untreated, late symptoms will onset rapidly. These symptoms include cough and shortness of breath, which are the result of leaky blood vessels and lead to collection of fluid in the lungs, bleeding and failure of the heart to pump. The combination of these changes can lead to shock, failure of several organs and even death.

With this in mind, key symptoms and signs to watch for (with a history of rodent exposure) include:

  • Fever greater than 101◦F, chills, body aches, headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting and abdominal pain
  • A dry cough followed by rapid onset of breathing difficulty

How Hantavirus Is Diagnosed

Diagnosing HPS can be challenging because early symptoms mimic the flu. There are currently no tests used to diagnose HPS which is why a history of rodent exposure accompanied by fever and fatigue is a strong indicator of infection. If you are concerned that you may have been exposed, you should see your doctor immediately.

When to See Your Doctor

If you have unexplained fever, body aches, abdominal pain, diarrhea, headaches, dry cough or severe breathing difficulty, you should see a healthcare provider. This is especially true if you live in the southwestern US and are exposed to large rodent populations, their nesting material and waste.


How Hantavirus Spread

How People Become Infected with Hantaviruses

In the United States, deer mice (along with cotton rats and rice rats in the southeastern states and the white-footed mouse in the Northeast) are reservoirs of the hantaviruses. The rodents shed the virus in their urine, droppings, and saliva. The virus is mainly transmitted to people when they breathe in air contaminated with the virus.

When fresh rodent urine, droppings, or nesting materials are stirred up, tiny droplets containing the virus get into the air. This process is known as “airborne transmission“.

There are several other ways rodents may spread hantavirus to people:

  • If a rodent with the virus bites someone, the virus may be spread to that person, but this type of transmission is rare.
  • Scientists believe that people may be able to get the virus if they touch something that has been contaminated with rodent urine, droppings, or saliva, and then touch their nose or mouth.
  • Scientists also suspect people can become sick if they eat food contaminated by urine, droppings, or saliva from an infected rodent.

The hantaviruses that cause human illness in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another. For example, you cannot get these viruses from touching or kissing a person who has HPS or from a health care worker who has treated someone with the disease.

In Chile and Argentina, rare cases of person-to-person transmission have occurred among close contacts of a person who was ill with a type of hantavirus called Andes virus.

People at Risk for Hantavirus Infection

Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry hantavirus is at risk of HPS. Rodent infestation in and around the home remains the primary risk for hantavirus exposure. Even healthy individuals are at risk for HPS infection if exposed to the virus.

Any activity that puts you in contact with rodent droppings, urine, saliva, or nesting materials can place you at risk for infection. Hantavirus is spread when virus-containing particles from rodent urine, droppings, or saliva are stirred into the air. It is important to avoid actions that raise dust, such as sweeping or vacuuming. Infection occurs when you breathe in virus particles.

Potential Risk Activities for Hantavirus Infection

Opening and Cleaning Previously Unused Buildings

Opening or cleaning cabins, sheds, and outbuildings, including barns, garages and storage facilities, that have been closed during the winter is a potential risk for hantavirus infections, especially in rural settings.

Housecleaning Activities

Cleaning in and around your own home can put you at risk if rodents have made it their home too. Many homes can expect to shelter rodents, especially as the weather turns cold. Please see our prevention information on how to properly clean rodent-infested areas.

Work-related Exposure

Construction, utility and pest control workers can be exposed when they work in crawl spaces, under houses, or in vacant buildings that may have a rodent population.

Campers and Hikers

Campers and hikers can also be exposed when they use infested trail shelters or camp in other rodent habitats.

The chance of being exposed to hantavirus is greatest when people work, play, or live in closed spaces where rodents are actively living. However, recent research results show that many people who have become ill with HPS were infected with the disease after continued contact with rodents and/or their droppings. In addition, many people who have contracted HPS reported that they had not seen rodents or their droppings before becoming ill. Therefore, if you live in an area where the carrier rodents, such as the deer mouse, are known to live, take sensible precautions-even if you do not see rodents or their droppings.


Hantavirus Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosing HPS in an individual who has only been infected a few days is difficult, because early symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, and fatigue are easily confused with influenza. However, if the individual is experiencing fever and fatigue and has a history of potential rural rodent exposure, together with shortness of breath, would be strongly suggestive of HPS. If the individual is experiencing these symptoms they should see their physician immediately and mention their potential rodent exposure.

Are there any complications?

Previous observations of patients that develop HPS from New World Hantaviruses recover completely. No chronic infection has been detected in humans. Some patients have experienced longer than expected recovery times, but the virus has not been shown to leave lasting effects on the patient.

Treating HPS

There is no specific treatment, cure, or vaccine for hantavirus infection. However, we do know that if infected individuals are recognized early and receive medical care in an intensive care unit, they may do better. In intensive care, patients are intubated and given oxygen therapy to help them through the period of severe respiratory distress.

The earlier the patient is brought in to intensive care, the better. If a patient is experiencing full distress, it is less likely the treatment will be effective.

Therefore, if you have been around rodents and have symptoms of fever, deep muscle aches, and severe shortness of breath, see your doctor immediately. Be sure to tell your doctor that you have been around rodents—this will alert your physician to look closely for any rodent-carried disease, such as HPS.


Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) facts

  • Hantaviruses are RNA viruses transmitted to humans by rodents (rodent-borne).
  • Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a disease in which, in the late stage of infection with a hantavirus subtype, patients experience lung congestion, fluid accumulation in the lungs, and shortness of breath. Early symptoms (fatigue, fever, muscle aches) are nonspecific. In addition, some hantaviruses can cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) as the disease progresses.
  • Health officials first identified hantavirus in an outbreak in 1993 in the “Four Corners” area of the southwestern U.S. Hantavirus spreads to humans by rodent urine, feces, saliva, and by airborne particles containing these items. The 2012 outbreak at Yosemite National Park was due to hantavirus transfer to humans by deer mice. Human-to-human transmission of hantavirus in the Americas has not been documented.
  • Hantavirus is not contagious (in North America).
  • In South America, some investigators suggest hantavirus there may be contagious.
  • The incubation period for hantavirus is about one to five weeks.
  • About 38% of hantavirus infections are lethal (mortality rate); specialists usually care for infected patients.
  • HPS is caused by hantaviruses that cause lung capillaries to leak fluid into the lung tissue.
  • Physicians usually diagnose HPS presumptively by the patient’s lung symptoms or the patient’s association with rodents or the patient’s probable contact with rodent-contaminated airborne dust; chest X-rays provide additional evidence, but definitive diagnosis is usually done at a specialized lab or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • There is no specific treatment of HPS; doctors usually treat patients in an intensive care facility and often require respiratory support (intubation and mechanical ventilation).
  • Risk factors are any association with rodents and their airborne body excretions.
  • If the HPS patient survives, there are usually no long-term complications.
  • Prevention of HPS centers on avoidance of rodent contamination; there is no vaccine available to prevent hantavirus infection or HPS.
Important Notice

All this information is collected by different internet sources and last updated on 24-03-2020. these information are just for help purpose. Check doctor and other medical for confirmation. We are not responsible for this information.

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