7 Symptoms of Hantavirus

The hantavirus is a rare but potentially very serious disease that affects a small number of people every year. It is carried in the bodily fluids of affected mice and rats including in their urine and droppings. The most common way of developing hantavirus is coming in contact with something that has been contaminated by rodent urine. Other cases may have developed when the person came in contact with a fairly large amount of droppings. Cleaning barns, attics or basements where mice have been can stir up dust which will carry the contaminant and can be breathed in with relative ease. If you have broken skin on your hands and touch something that is contaminated, you can be infected as well.

The disease can quickly progress from a flu like illness to a serious, severe pulmonary disease. Nearly 40% of the people who are infected with hantavirus will die from it. That can include people who were relatively healthy before they were infected so it is important to practice prevention first and foremost and to take additional precautions if you even suspect you have been exposed to hantavirus or any other rodent borne illness. Thorough hand washing is only one of these important steps. Monitoring your health and watching for potential symptoms of this disease is another.

Remember, the hantavirus illness will look like the flu when it first appears. If flu-like symptoms appear after exposure it is important that you seek medical help.

1. Fever

A fever is the body’s natural defense and reaction against infections from all sources. The length and severity of the fever may depend on the type of infection but other factors such as overall health and age may play a role too. A mild fever is often just a discomfort but is nothing to worry about. If a fever goes to 104 degrees in a previously healthy person it becomes dangerous and a doctor should be seen right away. In an infant, the fever threshold is much lower with a temperature of 100.4 warranting a need for medical care. Anyone who is already ill especially someone with serious conditions should be seen for a doctor any time there is a fever.

Sometimes a fever (even a mild one) and other symptoms may warn of a potentially serious condition. These symptoms can include headache, rash or a stiff neck especially if any of these are sudden. Unless the fever is causing unbearable discomfort it is better to let it run its course, with careful monitoring in case of any changes. Rest and cool, damp clothes are some of the best comfort measures for fever. Most people with fevers will prefer to stay less active until they are ready to move around once again.