Hantavirus infection

Chest | General Practice | Hantavirus infection (Disease)


Hantavirus is a virus that can infect the lungs causing a life threatening illness. Symptoms of Hantavirus infection include body aches, back pain, breathing difficulty, cough, diarrhea, dizziness, fever, headache, nausea, rapid breathing, rapid pulse, and rash. Later symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath. The virus tends to strike healthy young adults with a slight preponderance for men, because of occupational factors.

Incubation period of 2 or 3 weeks. There is a prodromal phase of fever, chills and myalgia that lasts 3 to 10 days, followed by rapid deterioration over 24 hours. There is also a cardio-pulmonary failure with pulmonary oedema. Those who recover may do so as rapidly as they became unwell. There is a marked diuresis. Early diagnosis is difficult as symptoms are not much different from many other viral infections.

Causes and Risk factors

Hantavirus is found worldwide and is spread by human contact with rodent waste. Rodents can transmit hantaviruses through urine, droppings, or saliva. Humans can contract the disease when they breathe in aerosolized virus. The most common animal involved is the deer mouse. This infection cannot be spread from human to human.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Effective treatment is not yet available and over 50% of cases end in fatality.

Therapy depends on the extent of disease and may include: intravenous fluid, mechanical ventilation, and ICU admission. Antibiotics are not effective against the hantavirus. ...