Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is an infectious disease characterized by flu-like symptoms that can progress rapidly to potentially life-threatening breathing problems.
Several types of hantaviruses can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. They are carried by several types of rodents, particularly the deer mouse. You become infected primarily by breathing air infected with hantaviruses that are shed in rodent urine and droppings.
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome advances through two distinct stages. In the first stage, you may experience flu-like signs and symptoms that may include:
Fever and chills
Headaches and muscle aches
Vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain
In its early stages, hantavirus infection is difficult to distinguish from influenza, pneumonia or other viral conditions. After four to 10 days, more-serious signs and symptoms begin. They typically include:
A cough that produces secretions
Shortness of breath
Fluid accumulating within the lungs
Low blood pressure
When to see a doctor
The signs and symptoms of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome can worsen suddenly and may quickly become life-threatening. If you’ve been around rodents or rodent droppings and have signs and symptoms of fever, chills, muscle aches or any difficulties breathing, seek immediate medical attention.
Keeping rodents out of your home and workplace can help reduce your risk of hantavirus infection. Try these tips:
Block access. Mice can squeeze through holes as small as 1/4 inch (6 millimeters) wide. Seal holes with wire screening, metal flashing or cement.
Close the food buffet. Wash dishes promptly, clean counters and floors, and store your food — including pet food — in rodent-proof containers. Use tightfitting lids on garbage cans.
Reduce nesting material. Clear brush, grass and junk away from the building’s foundation.
Set traps. Spring-loaded traps should be set along baseboards. Exercise caution while using poison-bait traps, as the poison also can harm people and pets.
Reduced heart efficiency