Hantavirus Facts

Hantavirus Facts
Hantavirus is a viral infection caused by coming into contact with infected rodents or their excrement. There are a number of hantaviruses and some can cause a deadly disease known as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Not all rodents carry hantaviruses. Those that do can include the white-footed mouse, the rice rat, the deer mouse, and the cotton rat - but not all rodents of these species are necessarily infected with hantaviruses. In order for a human to be infected with a hantavirus they must come into contact with an infected rodent, it's urine or feces, its nest, or from breathing air that contains stirred-up particles from rodent excrement. An individual can also become infected if they are bitten by a rodent with a hantavirus.
Interesting Hantavirus Facts:
Hantaviruses are considered fairly new, with the outbreak during the Korean War in 1950-1953. This outbreak affected 3,000 soldiers. Roughly 10% of those affected died from generalized hemorrhaging or kidney failure.
Hantavirus was not determined to be the cause of the Korean War outbreak until 1976 when virologists isolated Haantaan virus from strip field mice lungs.
The incubation period before symptoms of a hantavirus appears is between one and five weeks.
The first symptoms of hantavirus are fatigue, muscle aches, and fever. Difficulty breathing follows a few days later. Other symptoms can include stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea, nausea, chills, dizziness, and headaches.
When muscle aches occur from hantavirus they tend to be in the larger muscle groups in the body, including the back, thighs, hips, and even shoulders.
When the infection progresses into late symptoms infected persons will experience shortness of breath, coughing, and the feeling of tightness in the chest and inability to breathe. This is due to the lungs filling with fluid.
In order to avoid contracting hantavirus it is important to safely remove mice and their droppings and nests from the home. It's important to wear rubber gloves and use a disinfectant. It's also important to avoid vacuuming or sweeping as this will stir up particles and make it possible to breathe them into the lungs.
The main strategy in North America for preventing contact with hantaviruses is to keep rodents out of the home.
Hantavirus strains can cause different illnesses such as hantavirus hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (results in kidney failure), and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (results in respiratory failure).
There are more than 20 different types of hantaviruses known to exist.
There is no antiviral therapy specific for hantaviruses yet and there have not been any vaccines proven to be effective for use.
Hantaviruses have been found in Asia, North America, South America, Canada, Europe, and in Africa.
When hantavirus progresses to Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome the mortality rate is 38%.
When hantavirus progresses to hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome the mortality rate varies from 1% to 15% depending on the specific virus that caused it.
Once diagnosed with hantavirus the main form of treatment is supportive care, which includes rehydration, maintaining blood pressure and oxygen levels, dialysis when necessary, and antiviral medication in some cases.

Related Links:
Viruses Facts
Animals Facts