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Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a potentially fatal respiratory illness caused by a virus found in the saliva, urine, and droppings of some rodents. People can become infected with the virus by breathing contaminated dust, touching an infected rodent or rodent urine or droppings, or being bitten by an infected rodent.
Fever, fatigue, and muscle aches develop about 2 to 3 weeks after being exposed to the virus. A few days later, coughing and shortness of breath become severe as fluid builds up in the lungs (pulmonary edema). HPS is diagnosed with laboratory tests.
Early treatment for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is important for survival. Treatment includes supportive care for breathing and prevention of shock. HPS can be prevented by avoiding contact with rodents and their droppings.
Last Revised: February 22, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert L. Cowie, MB, FCP(SA), MD, MSc, MFOM - Pulmonology
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