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Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS)
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Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS)

Last update: 2022-06-07

Key facts

Transmission

  • Breathing in rodent urine and droppings (faeces) that are stirred up into the air
  • Touching the eyes, nose or mouth after touching rodent droppings, urine, or nests
  • Rodent bite
  • Rarely by close contact with people sick with HPS (for some germs in South America only)

Symptoms

  • Tiredness, fever and muscle aches.
  • Coughing and shortness of breath.
  • Around four out of ten people with HPS will die.

Prevention

  • Prevent rodents from entering houses or accessing stored food and water (including pet and animal food)
  • Follow recommended environmental hygiene practices (for example, dispose of rubbish in rodent-proof containers, minimize possible nesting sites)
  • Follow recommended kitchen hygiene practices (for example, clean floors and wash dishes and utensils immediately)
  • Introduce social mobilization and behaviour change communication
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) and disinfectants when cleaning up rodent droppings and nesting materials
  • Use rodent traps inside and outside homes
  • Properly disinfect and dispose of dead rodents

Vulnerable people

  • People who come in contact with rodents carrying virus and their droppings and urine.

If an epidemic occurs

  • Detect people who are sick with HPS quickly and refer them to health facilities
  • Increase social mobilization and behaviour change communication
  • Promote handwashing with soap
  • Prevent rodents from entering houses or accessing stored food and water (including pet or animal food)
  • Use rodent traps inside and outside homes
  • Properly disinfect and dispose of dead rodents
  • Follow recommended environmental hygiene practices (for example, dispose of rubbish in rodent-proof containers, minimize possible nesting sites)
  • Follow recommended kitchen hygiene practices (for example, clean floors and wash dishes and utensils immediately)

Community-based assessment - questions

Make a map of the community and mark the information you gather on the map. Record other details.

  • When did people start to fall sick with HPS?
  • How many people have fallen sick with HPS? Where?
  • How many people have died? Where?
  • How many people live in the affected community or area? How many children under five years of age live in the area?
  • Who and where are the vulnerable people?
  • How do people in the community store their food? (Are rats or other rodents able to eat it or contaminate it?)
  • How do people in the community dispose of rubbish and solid waste?
  • Have the authorities established a vector control programme?
  • Do community members have any risky habits or practices when they come into contact with live or dead rodents?
  • How do people in the community dispose of dead rats? (For example, are they buried, thrown in the river, burned?)
  • Are there handwashing facilities in the community and at health centres? Are soap and water always available?
  • Where are the local health facilities and services? (Include traditional and community carers from whom people seek advice.)
  • What are the community’s habits, practices and beliefs about caring for and feeding sick people? When babies and infants are sick, do women continue to breastfeed them?
  • Is a social mobilization or health promotion programme in place?
  • Which sources of information do people use most?
  • Are rumours or is misinformation about HPS spreading in the community?