Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a potentially fatal
respiratory illness caused by a virus found in the saliva, urine, and droppings
of some rodents. People can become infected with the virus by breathing
contaminated dust, touching an infected rodent or rodent urine or droppings, or
being bitten by an infected rodent.
Fever, fatigue, and muscle aches develop about 2 to 3 weeks after
being exposed to the virus. A few days later, coughing and shortness of breath
become severe as fluid builds up in the lungs (pulmonary edema). HPS is
diagnosed with laboratory tests.
Early treatment for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is important for
survival. Treatment includes supportive care for breathing and prevention of
shock. HPS can be prevented by avoiding contact with rodents and their
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert L. Cowie, MB, FCP(SA), MD, MSc, MFOM - Pulmonology
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