Symptoms and Signs of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)

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Medically Reviewed on 4/23/2022

Doctor's Notes on Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)

Hantaviruses are viruses passed to humans from the urine and droppings of rodents. Hantaviruses can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) that can be severe and/or fatal. Early signs and symptoms of hantavirus infections resemble the flu:

Late stages of the disease (HPS) may include cough, shortness of breath, and possibly heart and lung failure that can lead to death. About 38% of individuals who get HPS die. There is no specific treatment or vaccine for hantavirus.

The cause of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is inhaling airborne particles of infected rodent urine, droppings, and/or nesting materials that contain the virus. The form of hantavirus in the U.S. is not transmitted from person to person; the incubation period is about 2-3 weeks.

What Are the Treatments for Hantaviruses (Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome or HPS)?

According to the American Lung Association and others, there is no specific treatment for hantavirus infection. However, if diagnosed early and treated in an intensive care unit (ICU), the person has a better chance to improve and survive. ICU treatment for HPS is supportive care and may include the following:

In some patients, antivirals like ribavirin may be used, but no trials have been done to show these antivirals are effective.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.