Hantavirus infection is a deadly viral disease contracted from rodents.

Virus Attacking a Cell

In a viral infection, the virus uses your cells to grow and reproduce, making you ill in the process.
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.


Hantavirus infection is caused when a person comes into contact with rodents that are infected with hantavirus, or when a person comes into contact with infected rodents' urine or droppings. About 30%-40% of people who contract hantavirus infection will die. In the United States, the deer mouse is the rodent most likely to carry hantavirus infection. Hantavirus infection cannot be passed between humans.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Some factors thought to increase the risk of hantavirus infection include:

  • Living near a forest
  • Seeing rodents in your home
  • Having rodents present in a work environment


Symptoms associated with hantavirus infection include:

  • Fever
  • Deep muscle aches
  • Severe shortness of breath


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Other tests may include:


There is no specific treatment for hantavirus infection. Treatment will focus on treating your symptoms and making you comfortable.


The best way to prevent hantavirus infection is to control rodent infestation in and around your home. This involves sealing rodent entry holes or gaps with steel wool, lath metal, or caulk; trapping rodents using snap traps; and cleaning rodent food sources and nesting sites. In addition, take the following precautions when cleaning rodent-infested areas:

  • Wear rubber, latex, vinyl, or nitrile gloves.
  • Do not vacuum or sweep the area, since this may cause the virus to get into the air.
  • Wet contaminated areas with a bleach solution (eg, 1-½ cups bleach in 1 gallon water) or household disinfectant.
  • When everything is wet, remove contaminated materials with a damp towel before mopping or sponging the area with the bleach solution or disinfectant.
  • Spray dead rodents with disinfectant and double-bag them with all cleaning materials.
  • Properly dispose of dead rodents. Contact your health department for appropriate disposal methods.
  • Disinfect gloves with disinfectant or soap and water before taking them off. Then, thoroughly wash hands with soap and water or a waterless alcohol-based rub (eg, hand sanitizer) if soap is not available.