Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease in humans caused by infection with hantaviruses
Although HPS can’t be passed on from person to person, it can be contracted if someone touches their eyes, nose or mouth after touching rodent droppings, urine, or nesting materials.
Due to the small number of HPS cases, the “incubation time” is not positively known. However, on the basis of limited information, it appears that symptoms may develop between 1 – 8 weeks after exposure to fresh urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents.
HPS EARLY SYMPTOMS
Early symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups—thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders. These symptoms are universal.
There may also be headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. About half of all HPS patients experience these symptoms.
HPS LATE SYMPTOMS
Four to 10 days after the initial phase of illness, the late symptoms of HPS appear. These include coughing and shortness of breath, with the sensation of, as one survivor put it, a “…tight band around my chest and a pillow over my face” as the lungs fill with fluid.
DIAGNOSE AND TREATMENT
Diagnosing HPS in an individual who has only been infected a few days is difficult, because early symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, and fatigue are easily confused with influenza. However, if the individual is experiencing fever and fatigue and has a history of potential rural rodent exposure, together with shortness of breath, would be strongly suggestive of HPS. If the individual is experiencing these symptoms they should see their physician immediately and mention their potential rodent exposure.
However, there is no specific treatment, cure, or vaccine for hantavirus infection. But if infected individuals are recognized early and receive medical care in an intensive care unit, they may get better as soon as possible. It is worthy to note that HPS do have a mortality rate of 38%.
Cases of HPS have been recorded in China and the United States so far with one death recorded in China. No HPS case have been recorded in Nigeria so far