What is hantavirus?
Hantavirus is a viral infection Overview of Viral Infections A virus is a tiny living organism. Viruses are so small they can be seen only with the most powerful microscopes. That's why they're called microorganisms (micro means very small). Other common... read more spread by the urine and droppings of mice and rats. Hantavirus can cause life-threatening lung and kidney infections.
You can get hantavirus by breathing air that's contaminated by infected rodent (rat or mouse) urine or droppings
Hantavirus causes fever, headache, muscle aches, and problems with your lungs or kidneys
Severe hantavirus infection can be fatal
What causes hantavirus infection?
Hantavirus infects wild rodents throughout the world. There are different types of hantavirus in different parts of the world.
Depending on the type you have, the virus affects different organs.
Lungs: The type of hantavirus in the western United States and Central and South America usually causes a lung infection that causes a cough, trouble breathing, and fluid in your lungs.
Kidneys: The type of hantavirus in Korea and Europe usually causes a rash and belly pain and can stop your kidneys from working.
What are the symptoms of hantavirus?
Early symptoms of hantavirus:
Headache and muscle aches
Sometimes, belly pain, vomiting, or diarrhea
These early symptoms continue for about 4 days, sometimes longer. Then, you may have other symptoms depending on the type of hantavirus.
When your lungs are affected:
Cough and trouble breathing that gets worse over a few hours
Low blood pressure
Hantavirus infection that affects your lungs can be deadly.
When your kidneys are affected:
Sometimes, blood in your urine or stool or bruises on your skin
Sometimes, confusion leading to coma
How can doctors tell if I have hantavirus?
Doctors suspect hantavirus if you have symptoms and you’ve been around rodents and their droppings.
To know for sure, they'll do blood tests
If you have a cough or trouble breathing, they may do a chest x-ray Plain X-Rays A plain x-ray is an imaging test that takes a picture of the inside of your body. It uses a low dose of x-ray radiation. X-rays show body parts according to how dense (solid) they are. Doctors... read more and echocardiography Echocardiography and Other Ultrasound Procedures Echocardiography can be used to detect abnormalities in heart wall motion and to measure the volume of blood being pumped from the heart with each beat. This procedure can also detect abnormalities... read more (ultrasound of your heart)
How do doctors treat hantavirus?
Doctors will treat your symptoms.
If you have the type of hantavirus that affects your lungs, doctors will:
Give you oxygen to help you breathe
Sometimes, put you on a ventilator to help you breathe
If you have the type of hantavirus that affects your kidneys, doctors will:
Have you take an antiviral medicine that may help lessen your symptoms
Sometimes, give you kidney dialysis Dialysis Dialysis is an artificial process for removing waste products and excess fluids from the body, a process that is needed when the kidneys are not functioning properly. There are a number of reasons... read more (uses a machine to filter wastes from your blood because your kidneys aren’t able to)