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Hantavirus

What is hantavirus?
Where is hantavirus found? How are people exposed?
What are the symptoms of hantavirus?
How is hantavirus spread?
How can I keep from getting hantavirus?
If I’ve been exposed to hantavirus, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
What treatments are available for hantavirus? How serious is the disease?
How many cases of hantavirus have been reported in Kentucky?
Where can I get more information on hantavirus?

What is hantavirus?
Hantavirus is a rare disease caused by a virus.

Where is hantavirus found? How are people exposed?Mouse
Hantavirus can be found in the urine, dropping and saliva of infected rodents.

People are exposed to the virus when they inhale dust after cleaning up droppings or disturbing a nest. Once inhaled, the virus can cause an infectious respiratory illness called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.

What are the symptoms of hantavirus?
The initial symptoms of hantavirus include:

These symptoms can occur between one and five weeks after exposure to the virus.

Additional symptoms may also include:

These symptoms may appear approximately four to 10 days after the onset of initial symptoms

How is hantavirus spread?
The types of hantavirus that cause illness in the United States, cannot be transmitted from one person to another. In the United States, wild rodents—especially deer mice—carry the hantavirus. Rodents shed the virus in their urine, droppings, and saliva. The common house mouse does not carry the hantavirus. There are several ways rodents may spread hantavirus to people:

The hantaviruses that cause illness in the United States are not known to be transmitted by any types of animals other than certain species of rodents. You cannot get hantavirus from farm animals, or from insects. Dogs and cats are not known to carry hantavirus; however, they may bring infected rodents into contact with people if they catch such animals and carry them home. Guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, and rodents from pet stores are not known to carry hantavirus.

How can I keep from getting hantavirus?
The best way to prevent the spread of hantavirus is to make sure that your home and workplace are unattractive to rodents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends:

If I’ve been exposed to hantavirus, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
The initial symptoms of hantavirus can occur between one and five weeks after exposure.

What treatments are available for hantavirus? How serious is the disease?
There is no specific treatment, cure, or vaccine for hantavirus infection. If infected individuals are recognized early and receive medical care in an intensive care unit, they may do better.

Hantavirus can be very serious. Forty to 50 percent of people with the disease die. In survivors, recovery is rapid, but full recovery may take weeks or months. Lung abnormalities may linger in some individuals.  

How many cases of hantavirus have been reported in Kentucky?
The disease has never been confirmed in Kentucky.
 
Where can I get more information on hantavirus?
For more information online, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or you can call the Health Department at 859.363.2070. 

Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention