Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, or HPS, is a severe disease people get from contact with rodents. It causes difficulty breathing and can result in death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC www.cdc.gov) notes that controlling the rodent population around your home is one of the best ways to help make sure you don’t get the disease. It is very important to seal up cracks and put down traps to prevent future rodent infestations. Houses should be checked twice a year for potential holes where rodents could enter, and all holes should be sealed up. When cleaning areas where rodents have been, be sure to use disinfectants, masks and gloves to protect yourself.
Also from the CDC - Can You get Hantavirus from animals other than rodents, or from Insects? What about pets? No-the Hantaviruses that cause HPS in the United States are not known to be transmitted by any types of animals other than certain species of rodents. You cannot get Hantavirus from farm animals, such as cows, chickens, or sheep, or from insects, such as mosquitoes. Dogs and cats are not known to carry Hantavirus; however, they may bring infected rodents into contact with people if they catch such animals and carry them home. Guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, and rodents from pet stores are not known to carry Hantavirus.
The Symptoms of HPS:
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.
Late symptoms are seen 4 to 10 days after the initial phase of illness. 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.
Some of the uncommon symptoms include earache, sore throat, runny nose, and rash are very uncommon symptoms of HPS.
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 and 5 weeks after exposure to urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents.
Hantavirus is rare – less than 100 cases in the US per year – it can be fatal if not caught early and treated. Be sure to keep your home and any out buildings secure from all kinds of critters including rodents, snakes and insects. When you allow your home to become their home, you are at risk for not only Hantavirus, but snake or insect bites.