Hantavirus is a life-threatening viral infection spread to humans by rodents.
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome; Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome
Hantavirus is carried by rodents, particularly deer mice. The virus is found in their urine and feces, but it does not make the animal sick.
It is believed that humans can get sick with this virus if they breathe in contaminated dust from mice nests or droppings. You may come in contact with such dust when cleaning homes, sheds, or other enclosed areas that have been empty for a long time.
Hantavirus does not seem to spread from human to human.
The early symptoms of hantavirus disease are similar to the flu and include:
People with hantavirus may begin to feel better for a very short time. But within 1 to 2 days, it becomes hard to breathe. The disease gets worse quickly. Symptoms include:
People with hantavirus are admitted to the hospital, often to the intensive care unit (ICU).
There are no antivirals that work against hantavirus.
Hantavirus is a serious infection that gets worse quickly. Lung failure can occur and may lead to death. Even with aggressive treatment, more than one half of people who have this disease in their lungs die.
Complications of hantavirus may include:
These complications can lead to death.
Call your provider if you develop flu-like symptoms after you come in contact with rodent droppings or rodent urine, or dust that is contaminated with these substances.
Avoid exposure to rodent urine and droppings.
If you must work in an area where contact with rodent urine or feces is possible, follow these recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Hantavirus. www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/index.html. Updated September 19, 2020. Accessed May 28, 2021.
Dolin R. California encephalitis, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, hantavirus hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, and bunyavirus hemorrhagic fevers. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 166.
Petersen LR, Ksiazek TG. Zoonotic viruses. In: Cohen J, Powderly WG, Opal SM, eds. Infectious Diseases. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 175.