Hantavirus is a rare but serious infection. It can damage the lungs, heart, and other organs. It can be fatal. It needs to be treated right away.
In a viral infection, the virus uses your cells to grow and reproduce, making you ill in the process.
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Hantavirus infection is caused by a virus. People get the virus from contact with infected rodents or the rodents' urine or droppings. Hantavirus infection cannot be passed between humans.
Hantavirus is found in North, Central and South America. It is most common in the southwestern U.S.. Other things that raise the risk are:
Symptoms of hantavirus infection happen in stages.
There is a stage of flu-like symptoms, such as:
About 4 to 10 days later, serious symptoms begin, such as:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include blood tests and chest x-rays. Testing will confirm the diagnosis.
There is no specific treatment for hantavirus infection. Treatment often involves intensive care in the hospital. Care will focus on easing symptoms and breathing support. It may include:
The risk of hantavirus infection may be reduced by:
American Lung Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Public Health Agency of Canada
Avšič-Županc T, Saksida A, et al. Hantavirus infections. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2019;21S:e6-e16.
Cleaning up after rodents. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/rodents/cleaning/index.html. Accessed April 1, 2021.
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hantavirus-pulmonary-syndrome. Accessed April 1, 2021.
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/hps. Accessed April 1, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP Last Updated: 4/1/2021