Hantavirus Infection
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Hantavirus Infection

(Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome)

En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition

Hantavirus infection is a deadly viral disease contracted from rodents.

Virus Attacking a Cell

Virus

In a viral infection, the virus uses your cells to grow and reproduce, making you ill in the process.

© 2008 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Causes

Hantavirus infection is caused when a person comes into contact with rodents that are infected with hantavirus, or when a person comes into contact with infected rodents' urine or droppings. About 30%-40% of people who contract hantavirus infection will die. In the United States, the deer mouse is the rodent most likely to carry hantavirus infection. Hantavirus infection cannot be passed between humans.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Some factors thought to increase the risk of hantavirus infection include:

  • Living near a forest
  • Seeing rodents in your home
  • Having rodents present in a work environment

Symptoms

Symptoms associated with hantavirus infection include:

  • Fever
  • Deep muscle aches
  • Severe shortness of breath

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Other tests may include:

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for hantavirus infection. Treatment will focus on treating your symptoms and making you comfortable.

Prevention

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:

  • Wear rubber, latex, vinyl, or nitrile gloves.
  • Do not vacuum or sweep the area, since this may cause the virus to get into the air.
  • Wet contaminated areas with a bleach solution (eg, 1-½ cups bleach in 1 gallon water) or household disinfectant.
  • When everything is wet, remove contaminated materials with a damp towel before mopping or sponging the area with the bleach solution or disinfectant.
  • Spray dead rodents with disinfectant and double-bag them with all cleaning materials.
  • Properly dispose of dead rodents. Contact your health department for appropriate disposal methods.
  • Disinfect gloves with disinfectant or soap and water before taking them off. Then, thoroughly wash hands with soap and water or a waterless alcohol-based rub (eg, hand sanitizer) if soap is not available.

RESOURCES:

American Lung Association
http://www.lungusa.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Centers for Occupational Health and Safety
http://www.ccohs.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

References:

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Accessed July 3, 2007.

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome: what you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hanta/hps/noframes/FAQ.htm . Accessed July 3, 2007.



Last reviewed April 2008 by David Horn, MD, FACP

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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