What is Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome?

A rare and dangerous disease, Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) comes from exposure to diseased rodents, their droppings, or other bodily secretions. In 1993, the year this disease first came to the attention of the U.S., there was a strange illness occurring in Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado.

The disease was occurring primarily in rural areas and was considered a mystery illness for a time. Eventually, it was identified as a disease that came from infected rodents and was named Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.

Unfortunately, there is no real treatment for HPS, nor is there a cure. If diagnosed early on, however, treatment in an intensive care unit can increase the odds of living through the disease.

While in the hospital, the patient will be resting and will receive oxygen therapy, to help him or her to breathe. The respiratory distress caused by the illness is the primary concern. If a patient is brought in already in serious respiratory distress, he or she is not likely to make it through.

Although the disease is still rare, it is better known in the southwestern states and is thus more likely to be caught and the patient placed in the hospital. Unfortunately, about 35% of those diagnosed with HPV will die of the disease. Research is needed to develop a treatment or, hopefully, a cure for this deadly disease.

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