Tropical Diseases - Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (hps)

Hanta virus is contracted through breathing in traces of urine in the air, although direct contact with broken skin or mucous membranes, as well as rodent bites, have also caused infection. This respiratory disease triggers an overreaction by the body's immune system, creating high counts of white blood cells which flood the air sacs of the lungs, hindering oxygen intake and causing suffocation and death in nearly half of those afflicted.

Symptoms and Treatment

This new form of the Hantaan virus has been particularly difficult to detect because its symptoms—fever, cough, muscle aches, and sometimes pinkeye—resemble that of the common flu. Hantavirus can be distinguished by its lack of sore throat runny nose, and by the rapid escalation of respiratory difficulties. Death may occur in days, if symptoms go untreated. No vaccine exists. Doctors treat with antibiotics and mechanical ventilators to stop the buildup of fluid in the lungs.


Exposure to Hantavirus can be prevented by avoiding the disruption of rodent burrows and nests, by using appropriate respiratory devices when cleaning buildings in high-rodent areas, and by the professional eradication of rodent populations. Those exposed to high risk conditions, who have quickly come down with flu-like symptoms, should seek medical care.

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