Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (cont.)
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) facts
- What is hantavirus?
- What is hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), and what are hantavirus pulmonary syndrome symptoms and signs?
- What is the history of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?
- What causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?
- How is hantavirus pulmonary syndrome diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?
- What are risk factors for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?
- What are complications of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?
- What is the prognosis of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?
- Can hantavirus pulmonary syndrome be prevented?
- Where can people get more information on hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?
- Find a local Doctor in your town
What is the treatment for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?
Currently, there is no definitive treatment for HPS other than early recognition of HPS and subsequent medical support (usually consisting of symptomatic medical treatment and respiratory support or mechanical ventilation). The CDC suggests that early treatment in an intensive-care unit may allow the patient to survive severe HPS. Experimentally, physicians have administered the antiviral medication ribavirin (Rebetol, Copegus), but there are no clear data currently that establish that the drug is effective against HPS; however, its use against HFRS early in the disease suggests ribavirin can decrease illness and deaths. There is no vaccine available to protect against any hantaviruses to date.
What are risk factors for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?
The major risk factor for HPS is association with rodents, their saliva, urine, or feces or with dust, dirt, or surfaces contaminated with such items, either by direct contact or by aerosol. Barns, sheds, homes, or buildings easily entered by rodents are potential places for hantaviruses to come in contact with humans. Rural areas that have forests and fields that can support a large rodent population are areas that increase the risk of exposure to HPS. Camping and hiking in areas known to have a high rodent population and occupying areas where rodents may seek shelter increase risk. Those who work in areas that may be shelter for rodents (for example, crawl spaces, vacated buildings, construction sites) may also have increased risk of HPS. The risk is higher in people who work in areas known to have produced HPS infections.
Do not attempt to use a vacuum or use a broom to remove rodent urine or feces; this action may increase the risk of HPS by generating an aerosol. The risk of HPS can be reduced by inactivating hantaviruses in the environment by using a household detergent and 1/12 cups of bleach per gallon of water to wipe or spray the potentially infected area and while minimizing contact by wearing gloves and a mask, wipe the area (do not vacuum or sweep with a broom). Similar precautions should be taken when rodents are caught in traps.
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