There are two main groups of diseases, namely the Haemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome and the Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome which are caused by the Hantaviruses mainly carried by rodents.
Haemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome (HFRS)
An acute zoonotic disease caused by the Old World Hantaviruses and is characterised by abrupt onset of fever, headache, severe abdominal or lower back pain, hypotension and renal failure.
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)
An acute zoonotic disease caused by the New World Hantaviruses and is characterised by fever, myalgias and gastrointestinal symptoms followed by the abrupt onset of respiratory distress and hypotension. The illness may progress rapidly to severe respiratory failure and shock. The mortality rate is around 38%.
Mode of transmission
Hantavirus is mainly transmitted through direct contact with the faeces, saliva or urine of infected rodents or by inhalation of the virus in rodent aerosolised excreta.
There are other ways rodents may spread hantavirus to people:
Human to human transmission is extremely rare.
Early symptoms include fever, fatigue and muscle aches - especially at shoulder, back and thigh. There may also be headaches, dizziness, chills and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. In HFRS, there may be severe renal impairment while the chest is mostly affected in HPS patients who may have severe respiratory distress.
Symptoms may start to develop around 1 - 8 weeks after exposure.
There is no specific treatment for hantavirus infection. However, it is important for patients to seek early medical management.