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Hantavirus - For Health Care Providers

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Published on May 11, 2018. Last modified on May 14, 2018

At this time, the Health Department recommends that medical providers:

  • Take a detailed history. Ask patients about potential rural rodent exposure. High risk exposures include breathing in small particles of rodent urine, saliva, and/or feces containing hantavirus.
  • If hantavirus is suspected, consider laboratory testing. A positive serological test result, evidence of viral antigen in tissue by immunohistochemistry, or the presence of amplifiable viral RNA sequences in blood or tissue, with HPS compatible symptoms, is considered diagnostic for HPS. Diagnostics tests for hantavirus are available through many of the commercial laboratories.
  • Patients should receive appropriate, broad-spectrum antibiotic therapy while awaiting confirmation of a diagnosis of HPS. There is no specific treatment or cure for hantavirus infection. Treatment of patients with HPS remains supportive in nature. Care during the initial stages of the disease should include antipyretics and analgesia as needed.
  • If there is a high degree of suspicion of HPS, patients should be immediately transferred to an emergency department or intensive care unit (ICU) for close monitoring and care. Patients presenting with fulminant illness due to HPS have a poor prognosis despite ICU care. Critical care management should include careful assessment, monitoring, and adjustment of fluid volume status and cardiac function, including inotropic and vasopressor support if needed. Fluids should be administered carefully due to the potential for capillary leakage. Supplemental oxygen should be administered if patients become hypoxic. Equipment and materials for intubation and mechanical ventilation should be readily available since onset of respiratory failure may be precipitous.
  • Report all suspected cases of hantavirus to the Monterey County Health Department’s Communicable Disease Unit (phone: 831-755-4521; fax: 831-754-6682).  Outside of normal business hours please call 831-755-5100 and ask for the Hazardous Materials Team, who will connect you with the on-call Health Officer.

For additional information about hantavirus, please contact the Monterey County Health Department’s Communicable Disease Unit at 831-755-4521 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hantavirus website.

Downloadable brochures from the California Department of Public Health about hantavirus and rodents for your patients are available in English and Spanish.