Hantavirus (From Rodent Droppings)

What Is Hantavirus?

Infection with hantavirus can progress to Hantavirus, Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS ) , which can be fatal. People become infected through contact with hantavirus-infected rodents or their urine and droppings.

Hantavirus is not contagious from person to person in the United States. Rodents, such as mice and rats, carry the virus.
As of Early 2013, there have been no detected cases of Hantavirus in South Carolina.

What are the symptoms?

Early symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially the large muscle groups—thighs, hips, back, sometimes shoulders. There may also be headaches, dizziness, chills and/or abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. About half of all HPS patients experience these symptoms. Symptoms may develop between 1 and 5 weeks after exposure to potentially infected rodents and their droppings. Four to 10 days after the initial phase of illness, the late symptoms of HPS appear. These include coughing and shortness of breath as the lungs fill with fluid.

How is Hantavirus treated?

This disease is caused by a virus, so antibiotics are not effective.

At the present time, there is no specific treatment for hantavirus infection. If you have been around rodents and have symptoms of fever, deep muscle aches and severe shortness of breath, see your doctor immediately. Notify your doctor if you have recently traveled to the Southwestern United States. Be sure to tell your doctor that you have been around rodents—this will alert your physician to look closely for any rodent-carried disease such as HPS.

How do people catch this disease?

Hantavirus is not contagious from person to person in the United States. Hantaviruses are carried by rodents, especially the deer mouse. You can become infected by exposure to their droppings. Increasing numbers of rodents in human dwellings;

  • Occupying or cleaning previously vacant cabins or other dwellings that are actively infested with rodents;
  • Cleaning barns and other outbuildings;
  • Disturbing excreta or rodent nests around the home or workplace;
  • Keeping captive wild rodents as pets;
  • Handling equipment or machinery that has been in storage;
  • Disturbing excreta in rodent-infested areas while hiking or camping;

References and Additional Information



Health Infectious Diseases