Hantavirus disease, Hantavirus


Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is an uncommon infectious disease that starts with flu-like symptoms and quickly escalates to a more serious condition. It has the potential to cause life-threatening lung and heart issues. Hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome is another name for the condition.

Several strains of the hantavirus cause Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. These strains are spread by a variety of rodents. The deer mouse is the most common carrier in North America. Inhaling hantaviruses that have become airborne from rodent urine, droppings, or saliva is the most common way to become infected.

Treatment options are limited. Avoid contact with rats and safe cleaning of rodent habitats are the best ways to avoid hantavirus pulmonary illness.


The duration between hantavirus infection and the onset of sickness is typically 2 to 3 weeks. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome has two stages. The most common signs and symptoms in the first stage, which can last several days, are

1. Fever and chills

2. Aches or pains in the muscles

3. Headache

Some people also have:

1. Vomiting

2. Nausea

3. Diarrhea

4. Stomach pain

Damaged lung tissues, fluid build-up in the lungs, and major problems with lung and heart function can all result as the condition advances.

  1. Difficulty breathing
  2. Low blood pressure
  3. Irregular heart rate is some of the signs and symptoms to look out for.

Causes for the arousal of Hantavirus disease

Deer mouse: It’s a common carrier in North and Central America. And the majority of Hantavirus disease cases occur in the states that lie to the west of the Mississippi River.

Rodent carriers: As this human disease is mostly found in North and South America, rodents play a major role in spreading Hantavirus. Each strain of the pulmonary syndrome has its specific carrier.

Other carriers include cotton rats in South America, white-footed mice in the Northeast, and rice cats in North America. Vesper mouse and rice cat are the rodent carriers in South America.

Ways of Transmission

Hantavirus resides in the saliva, urine, and feces of rodents. Hence the virus can transmit in the following ways:

  • By touching – areas contaminated with the virus and mindlessly touching our eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • By eating – food that is contaminated with urine, droppings, or saliva.
  • Inhaling– is the most seen form of transmission from disturbed rodent nesting materials or droppings. This happens when the virus becomes airborne.
  • By being scratched or bitten – by a rodent carrier of the disease.

Andes virus is the only person-to-person transmitted strain of hantavirus recorded in South America.

Invasion of virus in human

When a human comes in contact with hantavirus it transits to the lungs and invades capillaries(Tiny blood vessels). This eventually leads to the leakage of capillaries and the lungs load with fluid (Pulmonary edema), resulting in severe damage to the heart and lungs.

Disease caused by a variety of hantavirus strains is called hemorrhagic fever along with severe kidney disease (renal syndrome). These unique variants have different animal carriers in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Facets that put us at risk of Hantavirus

In the US, hantavirus disease mostly occurs in rural areas and any exposure to habitats of rodents can add to the risk of disease.

The most common areas for exposure to rodents droppings, nests, and urine are:

  • Seasonal or Campers cabins
  • Basements or attics
  • Plantation buildings
  • Infrequently used buildings, such as storage sheds
  • Hiking shelters or ground
  • Construction sites

Activities that hike the risk of exposure to the hantavirus are:

  • Cleaning rodent nests without proper safety.
  • Working in fields like utility work, construction sites, farming, and pests control hikes the exposure to rodents.

Complications to be aware of

The pulmonary illness caused by the hantavirus can swiftly become life-threatening. Severe illness can cause the heart to stop delivering oxygen to the body. The severity of each viral strain varies. The fatality rate associated with the strain transmitted by deer mice ranges from 30% to 50%

Preventive measures against hantavirus

Keep rats out of your house and business, this can help you from contracting the hantavirus. Follow the tips

  • Set up traps* Use poison-bait traps with caution, as it’s harmful to pets and people. * Spring-loaded traps are highly recommended, set them along baseboards.
  • Block access. Mice can enter through holes as small as 6 millimeters(1/4 inch) wide. Close the holes with metal flashing, steel wool, wire screening, or cement.
  • Unused spaces must be aired out. Open up and air out campers and cabins, buildings that are not frequently used before cleaning.
  • Keep the food buffet closed. Clean floor and counters, wash dishes immediately,y and store the eatables in rat-proof containers (including pet food). Tightfitting lids are recommended on garbage cans.
  • Remove rodent-friendly items Move woodpiles or compost bins away from the house.

The cleanup procedure with safety:

Cleaning with safety measures declines the spread of the virus. Do the following

1st STEP: Wear plastic or rubber gloves and a mask

2nd STEP: Spray over dead rodents, droppings, or nests with bleach, water solution, or disinfectant. Leave it for 5 minutes

3rd STEP: Then clean up with paper towels and throw them into garbage cans.

4th STEP: Sponge or mop the area with bactericide

5th STEP: Wash the gloved hands and discard the mask and gloves

6th STEP: Wash your hands rigorously with water and soap

When should you visit your Doctor?

The symptoms of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome can become life-threatening very fast. Consult the doctor if you experience flu-like symptoms, and live in areas infested with rodents.

Diagnosis of Hantavirus Disease

  • Blood tests help to identify the presence of Hantavirus in a person.
  • A person exposed to the virus has characteristic symptoms. Kidney functioning and the state of other organs are evaluated with other blood tests.
  • A chest x-ray ray is done if the pulmonary syndrome is suspected
  • Echocardiography is also called ultrasonography of the heart. It is done to specify the cause of fluid accumulation around the lungs.

Treatment of Hantavirus Disease

  1. As it results in pulmonary syndrome, drugs and oxygen is given to stabilize blood pressure. A few times ventilator helps the person in breathing.
  2. For renal syndrome, the antiviral drug ribavirin is given intravenously as it helps to decline the severity of death. Dialysis can be lifesaving.

Treatment of hantavirus infection is highly supportive.


People in North and South America are highly prone to this virus. It’s the ability to transmit through the air that makes it dangerous. Maintain clean surroundings and follow safe cleaning procedures to prevent exposure to the virus. Reaching out for treatment after observing symptoms is very important.


Subin Joshua
Author: Hi there, my name is Subin Joshua, and I am a Medical student. I grew up in a family of teachers and know that being a social worker is my calling. My passion for helping others has been evident in my involvement in helping the poor and needy for the last three years. Through those experiences, I have learned to interact with a diverse group of people, which has increased my ability to relate to others.