What is hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome?

Hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS)

Hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS) 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). HCPS is diagnosed with laboratory tests.

Early treatment for HCPS is important for survival. Treatment includes supportive care for breathing and prevention of shock. HCPS can be prevented by avoiding contact with rodents and their droppings.

What are the symptoms of hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS)?

Symptoms usually start 2 to 3 weeks after a person has been exposed to the virus. Early symptoms may include:

  • A fever and chills.
  • Muscle aches and headache.
  • Fatigue.
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and belly pain.

You quickly will become very sick. Within a few days, you'll start to have more serious symptoms, such as:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Coughing.
  • A fast heartbeat and fast breathing. These are signs of fluid buildup in the lungs (pulmonary edema).

HCPS is a serious lung problem that can be deadly.

How is hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS) treated?

HCPS requires treatment in a hospital right away, even if the case is mild. You will get treatment to support you through the illness, such as intravenous (I.V.) fluids and medicines. You may need a ventilator to help you breathe.

People who survive the illness usually recover quickly.

How can you help prevent hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS)?

The best way to prevent HCPS is to avoid contact with rodents and their droppings. If you live in or visit an area where the viruses have been found:

  • Set metal traps to catch rodents, and block areas where rodents can get into your home.
  • Keep garbage in tightly covered containers.
  • Clean up rodent bedding sites around your house. You may need to call a professional exterminator. If you do the cleanup yourself, be very careful and:
    • Air out closed buildings well before you go inside to clean them.
    • Wear gloves and a mask.
    • Clean with a wet mop and disinfectant (rather than sweeping or vacuuming).
  • When you are camping or hiking, avoid rodent droppings, burrows, and possible rodent shelters. Use only bottled water or water that has been disinfected.
  • Do not use a cabin or any other closed shelter that has rodents until it has been aired out, cleaned, and disinfected.

How is hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS) diagnosed?

Your doctor will do a physical exam and ask you questions about your symptoms, past health, and exposure to rodents. You may have other tests, such as chest X-rays, a complete blood count, and an oxygen saturation test.

Your doctor will know for sure that you have HCPS only if you have the signs of HCPS and if tests show that the virus is or has been in your blood or tissues.

How can you care for yourself when you have hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS)?

This condition is treated in the hospital. While you're recovering, follow any instructions your doctor gives you. And go to any follow-up appointments.

How does hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS) spread?

Most cases of HCPS in the U.S. are caused by one type of hantavirus found in the deer mouse. People can become infected by:

  • Breathing in tiny airborne particles that come from rodent urine.
  • Touching rodent urine, saliva, or droppings.
  • Coming in contact with dust contaminated with the virus.
  • Being bitten by an infected mouse.

North America has never had a known case of one person spreading the illness to another. And people do not get HCPS from farm animals, pets, or insects. But your pet may bring home an infected rodent.

What is hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS)?

Hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS) is a lung infection caused by viruses found in the saliva, urine, and droppings of some rodents. The illness is rare but can be deadly.

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