Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What are the Symptoms of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome?

It appears that symptoms may develop between 1 and 5 weeks after exposure to infected rodents or their urine. The illness may seem similar to a severe cold or influenza.

Early symptoms include fatigue and fever and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups-thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders. About half of people with HPS have headaches, dizziness, chills, and stomach problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
Four to 10 days after the start of HPS, late symptoms appear. These include coughing and shortness of breath. HPS quickly progresses to severe breathing problems and to adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is fatal in 30 to 40 percent of cases.

How is Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome Detected?

Hantavirus, which causes HPS, can be detected by examining blood and tissue samples.

How is Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome Treated?

There is no specific treatment for HPS, and there is no cure. But early diagnosis and treatment in an intensive care unit may improve a person's chances of recovery.

A person with HPS is given oxygen therapy to help them breathe. The earlier treatment is started, the more successful it is likely to be. If a person is brought into the hospital while in severe respiratory distress, it is less likely the treatment will work.

If you have been around rodents and have fever, deep muscle aches, and severe shortness of breath, tell your doctor right away so you can be tested for rodent-carried disease such as HPS.