photo collage

Print Email

Hantavirus Fact Sheet

What is hantavirus infection?

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus that is carried by specific types of rodents.

Who is at risk?
HPS is a rare disease and most people are NOT at risk for hantavirus infection. There has been NO report of hantavirus acquired in an office building setting in Anne Arundel County or in the United States. In urban areas in Maryland, buildings are rarely infested with the specific types of mice that carry the virus. Hantavirus is not known to exist in the mouse population in Maryland. The vast majority of cases in the United States have been in the Western half of the country, with a concentration in the Southwestern states.

If a person is in an environment where mice carrying hantavirus are found, he or she can catch HPS by direct contact with infected rodents; contact with the infected rodents' droppings (which look like black grains of rice), urine, saliva or nesting materials (twigs, insulation, shredded paper, grass); or by breathing in dust that contains infected rodent droppings, urine, or saliva. Person-to-person spread of hantaviruses has not occurred in the United States.

What are the symptoms of HPS?
Most people with HPS will have early symptoms much like those of the flu: fever (101 F to 104 F), tiredness, muscle aches, headaches, dizziness, chills, and stomach problems (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and pain). Symptoms progress quickly to more serious respiratory problems, usually requiring hospital admission.

Early medical care is recommended for any person suspected of having hantavirus infection.