Hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents and can cause varied disease syndromes in people worldwide. Infection with any hantavirus can produce hantavirus disease in people. Hantaviruses in the Americas are known as “New World” hantaviruses and may cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Other hantaviruses, known as “Old World” hantaviruses, are found mostly in Europe and Asia and may cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).
Each hantavirus serotype has a specific rodent host species and is spread to people via aerosolized virus that is shed in urine, feces, and saliva, and less frequently by a bite from an infected host. The most important hantavirus in the United States that can cause HPS is the Sin Nombre virus, spread by the deer mouse.
What Are Symptoms of Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS)?
Early symptoms of HPS include fatigue, fever, and muscle aches, along with headaches, dizziness, chills and abdominal problems. If left untreated, it can lead to coughing and shortness of breath and can be fatal, with a mortality rate of 38 percent, according to CDC.
While the initial symptoms of HFRS too remain the same, it can cause low blood pressure, acute shock, vascular leakage, and acute kidney failure.
HPS can't be passed on from person to person, while HFRS transmission between people is extremely rare.
As per the CDC, rodent population control is the primary strategy for preventing hantavirus infections.
Fever greater than 101◦F, chills, body aches, headaches.
Nausea and vomiting and abdominal pain.
New rash (faint red spots)
A dry cough followed by rapid onset of breathing difficulty.
There's no specific treatment for hantavirus infection. Known antiviral drugs do not help. There is no vaccine. The sooner people with hantavirus infection get intensive care, the better their chances of survival.
Does it spread through humans?
No,it doesn't spread through humans. Hanta virus is a virus that affect the rodents,but doesn't cause any infection in them. But when this virus gets into human beings it can cause respiratory syndrome and haemorrhageic fever and renal syndrome (HFRS). This is not so contagious as it don't spread by human to human contact,but only when they come in contact with urine,feces of rodents.
How do people get infected with hantavirus? The CDC notes that human hantavirus infections tend to happen sporadically, and most often in rural areas with forests, fields and farms that are appealing habitats for these rodent hosts — particularly the deer mouse in the U.S., although the cotton mouse, rice rat and white-footed mouse have also been known to carry hantaviruses. The rodents shed the virus in their saliva, urine and feces, and people most commonly contract it by breathing in tiny droplets containing the virus that get stirred up into the air when fresh rodent urine, droppings or nesting materials are stirred up. This can happen while cleaning in and around your home, if you have rodents living there, too. Opening or cleaning sheds and previously unused buildings, particularly in rural settings, could also expose people to infected rodent droppings. Construction, utility and pest control workers can also come into contact with it while working in crawl spaces or buildings that may be infested with mice. And hikers and campers may be exposed when camping or sheltering in rodent habitats. Researchers also believe that people can contract the hantavirus if they touch something that has been contaminated with rodent urine, droppings, or saliva, and then touch their nose or mouth. [Keep up that handwashing.] They suspect people can become sick if they eat food contaminated by urine, droppings or saliva from an infected rodent, as well. And in rare cases, the virus can be spread if a rodent carrying the virus bites someone. Note: The CDC states that the hantaviruses that cause human illness in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another, such as from touching or kissing a person with it, or from a health care worker who treated someone with it. Only Chile and Argentina have seen a couple of rare cases of person-to-person transmission among close contacts of a person sick with the Andes Virus hantavirus. How are people treated? Is there a vaccine? The CDC notes there is no specific treatment, cure or vaccine for hantavirus infection. The earlier infected individuals are recognized and brought in to intensive care, the better. In intensive care, patients are intubated and given oxygen therapy to help them through any severe respiratory distress. Those with HFRS (hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome) may also be hooked up to IVs to manage their fluids and electrolytes, and require dialysis in extreme cases. So the health body recommends that “if you have been around rodents and have symptoms of fever, deep muscle aches and severe shortness of breath, see your doctor immediately.” How dangerous is it? Developing HPS (hantavirus pulmonary syndrome) and HFRS (hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome) can be fatal. HPS has a mortality rate of 38%. Depending upon which virus is causing the HFRS, death occurs in less than 1% to as many as 15% of patients. But both of these are also pretty rare, and while some patients have long recovery times of weeks or months, many patients make a full recovery without lasting complications. Who is most at risk of hantavirus? Anyone, healthy or not, who comes into contact with rodents carrying hantavirus is at risk of developing hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), unfortunately. Those living with a rodent infestation are those most at risk, the CDC says, and any activity that puts you in contact with rodent droppings, urine, saliva or nesting materials increases your chances of infection. In the U.S., people in rural settings were more likely to come in contact with the virus, such as a 2012 outbreak that involved 10 cases in people who had recently visited Yosemite National Park, or a 2017 outbreak of a hantavirus in 17 people in 11 states, which included Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. How can I prevent hantavirus, or minimize my risk? The best thing you can do is eliminate contact with rodents at home, at work or at your campsite as much as you can. At home, seal up any holes or gaps in your house, apartment or garage that could let rodents in. Place traps in and around your home to combat any rodent infestation. And seal and clean up easy-to-get food. Sanitation is key. You need to take precautions before cleaning up a space that could be the site of a rodent infestation, however. First, ventilate it by opening up doors and windows for at least 30 minutes. Make sure you wear rubber, latex or vinyl gloves. Then do not stir up dust by sweeping or vacuuming up droppings or nesting materials; rather, spray the area with a disinfectant, or a mixture of bleach and water, and let it soak for five minutes. Use a paper towel to pick up the urine and droppings, and dispose of the waste in the garbage. Finally, disinfect items that might have been contaminated by rodents or their urine and droppings. Get more tips for safely cleaning up after rodents here.