What is hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a lung infection caused by viruses found in the saliva, urine, and droppings of some rodents. The illness is rare but can be deadly.
The first known outbreak of HPS in the United States occurred in 1993. Most of the U.S. cases have happened during the spring and summer in the Southwest.
What causes HPS?
Most cases of HPS in the U.S. are caused by one type of hantavirus found in the deer mouse. People can become infected by:
- Breathing in tiny airborne particles that come from rodent urine.
- Touching rodent urine, saliva, or droppings.
- Coming in contact with dust contaminated with the virus.
- Being bitten by an infected mouse.
North America has never had a known case of one person spreading the illness to another. And people do not get HPS from farm animals, pets, or insects. But your pet may bring home an infected rodent.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms usually start 2 to 3 weeks after a person has been exposed to the virus. Early symptoms may include:
- A fever and chills.
- Muscle aches and headache.
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and belly pain.
You quickly will become very sick. Within a few days, you’ll start to have more serious symptoms, such as:
- Shortness of breath.
- A fast heartbeat and fast breathing. These are signs of fluid buildup in the lungs