Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a serious respiratory disease caused by a virus (hantavirus). which is carried by wild rodents, particularly deer mice. It is present in their droppings (feces), urine and saliva and when dried droppings or urine are stirred up in dust it can be breathed in by people. People then may get hantavirus when they breathe in the contaminated dust. Hantavirus has not been shown to infect other kinds of animals, such as dogs, cats, or farm animals.

The disease is not contagious and does not spread from human to human.

Incubation Period - Varies, ranges from 1 to 6 weeks.

First symptoms include:

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Muscle pain

  • Severe abdominal, joint and lower back pain

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • A cough and shortness of breath usually develops 1 to 5 days after the onset of symptoms.

  • Difficulty in breathing due to fluid build-up in the lungs. This can quickly progress to respiratory failure.


  1. Control the presence of rodents in and around the home by sealing up rodent entry holes or gaps; trapping mice and rats.

  2. Be careful not to create food sources for the rodents, i.e. putting away pet food.

  3. Do not sweep or vacuum when cleaning vacated sheds, cabins or other enclosed areas, this can stir up dust. Use gloves to wet contaminated areas with a bleach solution or household disinfectant. Once wet, the area can be mopped or sponged.
  4. Contaminated gloves should be disinfected before taking them off. Wash hands with soap & warm water.

For more information on Hantavirus and other animal-borne diseases, visit our website at

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