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Diseases & Topics

Hantavirus

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a deadly disease carried by rodents, especially rats and mice. It is found throughout the United States, particularly in the Southwest. In North America, the most common cause of HPS is Sin Nombre virus, found in the deer mouse.

Humans can contract the disease from infected rodents or the animals' urine, droppings or nesting material, either by breathing in the virus or when infected items contact a person's broken skin. It is not spread through person-to-person contact.

Symptoms of hantavirus infection may include fever, deep muscle aches, and severe shortness of breath. Although rare, HPS is potentially deadly.

Rodent control in and around the home, including outbuildings and places where children play, is the best way to prevent hantavirus infection. Use personal protective equipment such as gloves and face masks (respirators) when handling potentially infected rodents or disturbing areas of rodent infestation. Recommended cleaning agents include household disinfectant or bleach solution.

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