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Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (hantavirus)
and Animals

What is hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a rare disease caused by a virus (hantavirus). The first symptoms of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome are fever, muscle pain, and being tired. This happens 1 to 3 weeks after a person is exposed to hantavirus. Some people also get headaches, dizziness, vomiting, or diarrhea. After about 4 to 10 days, people who are sick with hantavirus infection begin to cough and have shortness of breath. If someone is sick with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome and does not get help quickly, he or she may die.

Can animals transmit hantavirus pulmonary syndrome to me?


Yes, wild rodents can pass hantavirus to people. Several different types of wild mice and rats can be infected with hantavirus and pass it in their droppings, urine, or saliva. The common house mouse does not carry hantavirus. People can get hantavirus when they touch rodent urine, droppings, or places where these animals have nested. Dried droppings or urine can be stirred up in dust and breathed in by people. Hantavirus has not been shown to infect other kinds of animals, such as dogs, cats, or farm animals.

How can I protect myself from hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?

  • Keep a clean home, especially the kitchen (wash dishes, clean counters and floor, and keep food covered in rodent-proof containers).
  • Keep a tight-fitting lid on garbage, and discard uneaten pet food at the end of the day.
  • Set and keep spring-loaded rodent traps near baseboards because rodents tend to run along walls and in tight spaces rather than out in the open.
  • Set Environmental Protection Agency-approved rodenticide with bait under plywood or plastic shelter along baseboards. These are sometimes known as "covered bait stations." Remember to follow product use instructions carefully, since rodenticides are poisonous to pets and people, too.
  • If bubonic plague is a problem in your area, spray flea killer or spread flea powder in the area before setting traps. This is important. If you control rodents but do not control fleas as well, you may increase the risk of infection with bubonic plague, since once the rodents die, fleas will leave them and seek other food sources, including humans.
  • Seal all entry holes 1/4 inch wide or wider with lath screen or lath metal, cement, wire screening, or other patching materials, inside and out.

How can I find out more about hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?

Learn more about hantavirus pulmonary syndrome at CDC's hantavirus website, which includes questions and answers, prevention and control information, and more.

* Links to non-Federal organizations found at this site are provided solely as a service to our users. These links do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the Federal Government, and none should be inferred. CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization Web pages found at these links.

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