Family of four


hps signs and symptoms
Symptoms of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)
Early Symptoms
Early symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups-thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders. These symptoms are universal in people who have contracted HPS.

There may also be headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. About half of all HPS patients experience these symptoms.

Late Symptoms
Four to 10 days after the initial phase of illness, the late symptoms of HPS appear. These include coughing and shortness of breath, with the sensation of, as one survivor put it, a "...tight band around my chest and a pillow over my face" as the lungs fill with fluid.

Diagnosing HPS
Early symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, and fatigue are easily confused with influenza.

If someone has fever, fatigue, shortness of breath and a history of potential rural rodent exposure, see a physician immediately.

Tell your physician you have been exposed to rodents.

Treating HPS
There is no specific treatment, cure, or vaccine for hantavirus infection. However, if the disease is recognized early and the person is treated in an intensive care unit there is a better chance of recovery.

In intensive care, patients are intubated and given oxygen therapy to help them through the period of severe respiratory distress.

If the patient is experiencing full distress, it is less likely the treatment will be effective. HPS can be fatal and has a mortality rate of 38%.

Avoid Hantavirus Exposure

What is hantavirus?
Hantavirus is a rare but potentially fatal disease carried by types of rodents, such as deer mice. 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. The virus is mainly transmitted to people when they breathe in air contaminated by rodent urine, droppings, or nesting material that has been stirred up.

Preventing Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)
Eliminate or minimize contact with rodents in your home, workplace, or campsite. Seal up holes and gaps in your home or garage. Place traps in and around your home to decrease rodent infestation. Clean up any easy-to-get food. If you live in an area where the carrier rodents are known to live, try to keep your home, vacation place, workplace, or campsite clean.

Who gets hantavirus?
Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry hantavirus is at risk of HPS. Rodent infestation in and around the home remains the primary risk for hantavirus exposure. Even healthy individuals are at risk for HPS infection if exposed to the virus.

Any activity that puts you in contact with rodent droppings, urine, saliva, or nesting materials can place you at risk for infection. Hantavirus is spread when virus-containing particles from rodent urine, droppings, or saliva are stirred into the air. It is important to avoid actions that raise dust, such as sweeping or vacuuming. Infection occurs when you breathe in virus particles.

Cases of HPS occur sporadically, usually in rural areas where forests, fields and farms offer suitable habitat for the virus's rodent hosts. Barns, outbuildings and sheds are potential sites where people may be exposed to the virus.

There are several other ways rodents may spread hantavirus to people:

- If a rodent with the virus bites someone, the virus may be spread to that person, but this type of transmission is rare.

- Researchers believe that people may be able to get the virus if they touch something that has been contaminated with rodent urine, droppings, or saliva, and then touch their nose or mouth.

- Researchers also suspect people can become sick if they eat food contaminated by urine, droppings, or saliva from an infected rodent.

The types of hantavirus that cause HPS in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another. For example, you cannot get the virus from touching or kissing a person who has HPS or from a health care worker who has treated someone with the disease. You also cannot get the virus from a blood transfusion in which the blood came from a person who became ill with HPS and survived.

Public Health - Rifle
195 West 14th Street
Rifle, CO 81650
Email Public Health

970-625-5200 | phone
970-625-4804 | fax

  Public Health - Glenwood Springs
2014 Blake Avenue
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
Email Public Health

970-945-6614 | phone
970-947-0155 | fax

privacy policy