Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome; Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome
Hantavirus is a life-threatening viral infection spread to humans by rodents. It has symptoms similar to influenza.
Hantavirus is carried by rodents, especially 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 between humans.
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:
The health care provider will perform a physical exam. This may reveal:
The following tests may be done:
People with hantavirus are admitted to the hospital, often to the intensive care unit (ICU).
Treatments will include:
Hantavirus is a serious infection that gets worse quickly. Lung failure can occur and may lead to death. Even with aggressive treatment, more than half of people who have this disease in their lungs die.
Complications of hantavirus may include:
These complications can lead to death.
Call your health care 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):
Bente DA. California encephalitis, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, and bunyavirus hemorrhagic fevers. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 168.
Schountz T. Diseases caused by hantaviruses. In: Magill AJ, Hill DR, Solomon T, Ryan ET, eds. Hunter's Tropical Medicine and Emerging Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2013:chap 33.6.
Last reviewed on: 2/4/2015
Reviewed by: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.