Hantavirus is a family of viruses found throughout the world. In North and South America hantavirus is associated with Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome(HPS). HPS starts with vague symptoms such as headache, fever/chills and body aches. After 3-7 days, respiratory symptoms appear and the disease quickly progresses to respiratory failure and shock. The mortality rate for HPS is 38%.
In Montana, the reservoir for HPS is the deer mouse. People can be exposed by direct contact with mouse dropping or nests. Aerosolized virus from rodent urine, droppings or saliva is another mode of transmission. Bites from an infected deer mouse can also transmit the virus. High risk activities include: trapping rodents, cleaning rodent infested structures and living in a home with a high density of rodents in or around the home.
Although it’s not a common disease Montana has one of the highest incidence rates of HPS in the U.S., averaging 1 or 2 reported cases each year. When adjusted for the state’s population, Montana is second to New Mexico in the number of HPS cases. According to the CDC as of 2011 a total of 587 cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome have been reported in the U.S.
For more information about Hantavirus and HPS, check out: http://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/