Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) - Topic Overview What is hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?
pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a
lung infection caused by viruses found in the saliva, urine, and droppings of
some rodents. The illness is rare but can be
The first known outbreak of HPS in the United States occurred in 1993. Most of the U.S. cases have happened during the spring and summer in the Southwest.
What causes HPS?
Most cases of HPS in the U.S. are
caused by one type of hantavirus found in the deer mouse. People can become
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 HPS from farm animals, pets, or insects. But your pet may bring home an
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms usually start 2 to 3 weeks after
a person has been exposed to the virus. Early symptoms may include:
You quickly will become very sick. Within a few days, you'll start to have more serious symptoms, such as:
breath. Coughing. A fast heartbeat and fast breathing. These are signs of fluid buildup in the lungs ( pulmonary edema).
After a person with HPS starts having
trouble breathing, he or she may die within hours. Most deaths occur within 1 to 2 days after severe breathing problems begin. About 4 out of 10
people who get HPS do not survive. 1 How is HPS diagnosed?
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 HPS only if you have the signs of HPS and if tests show that the
virus is or has been in your
blood or tissues.