Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPV) is a deadly disease, with a 35% fatality rate, that comes from exposure to diseased rodents, their droppings, their urine, or their saliva. The infection attacks the lungs, making it difficult to breathe and, in a third of cases, leads to death by respiratory failure.
Symptoms develop 1-5 weeks after exposure to the rodent’s infection. Most individuals will not know, at first, that something is seriously wrong.
In the beginning stages of the illness, one may appear to have the flu with a headache, weakness, fever, achy muscles, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, dizziness, and chills. Many individuals, during this period, will not seek treatment, thinking that rest and liquids will be all that is necessary.
After 4 to 10 days of these initial symptoms, the later symptoms will develop. Moving into the lungs, the infection causes shortness of breath, coughing, and eventually breathing becomes labored and difficult.
Blood and tissue samples will detect the presence of HPV. A patient identified as having HPV will be hospitalized and placed on oxygen therapy. There is no treatment but to give patients oxygen, to ease their breathing, and hope for recovery.
Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information about hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), talk to your doctor or primary care provider.