Hanta viruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents and can cause variety of disease syndromes in people worldwide.  An infection with the hantavirus can produce hantavirus disease in people. Hantaviruses in the Americas are known as “New World” hantaviruses and may cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). In Europe and Asia, other hantaviruses, are known as “Old World” hantaviruses and they usually cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).

HFRS is found throughout the world. Hantan virus is widely distributed in eastern Asia, particularly in China, Russia, and Korea. Puumala virus is found in Scandinavia, western Europe, and western Russia. Dobrava virus is found primarily in the Balkans, and Seoul virus is found worldwide. Saaremaa is found in central Europe and Scandinavia. In the Americas, hantaviruses cause a different.


Rodents are the natural reservoir for hantaviruses. Each hantavirus serotype  has a specific rodent host species and is spread to people via urine, feces, and saliva, and rarely by a bite from an infected host.  Transmission may also occur when infected urine or these other materials are directly introduced into broken skin or onto the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth.

In addition, individuals who work with live rodents can be exposed to hantaviruses through rodent bites from infected animals. Transmission from one human to another may occur, but is extremely rare.

 The most important hantavirus that causes HPS is the Sin Nombre virus which is spread by the deer mouse.


*Cotton Rat (Sigmodon hispidus): is found in the southeastern US and down into Central and South America, has a bigger body than the deer mouse. The hantavirus strain present in the cotton rat is Black Creek Canal virus (BCCV). The cotton rat inhabits overgrown areas with shrubs and tall grasses.

Figure 1: Cotton Rat

*Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) : is a cute animal, with big eyes and ears. Its head and body measures 2-3 inches (5cm – 7.5cm) in length, and the tail adds 2 – 3 inches. The hantavirus strain present in deer mice is Sin Nombre(SNV). The deer mouse is mostly  found throughout North America, preferring woodlands.

Figure 2 : Deer Mouse

*Rice Rat (Oryzomys palustris): is smaller than the cotton rat, with a 5 – 6 inch (7.5cm – 15cm) head and a very long 4 – 7 inch (10cm – 18cm) tail. The hantavirus strain present in the rice rat is Bayou virus (BAYV). It is found in the southeastern US and Central America.

Figure 3: Rice Rat

*White-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus):  closely resembles the deer mouse. Its head and body together mesaure approximately four inches (10cm). The virus strain present in the white-footed mouse is New York virus (NYV). The white-footed mouse is found throughout southern New England and the Mid-Atlantic and southern states, the midwestern and western states, and Mexico.

Figure 4: White-footed mouse


Symptoms may develop within 1 to 2 weeks after exposure to infectious material, but in very rare cases, they may take up to 8 weeks to develop.

* Fever



*Muscle aches

*Shortness of breath

*intense headaches,

*Back and abdominal pain

*Blurred vision.

 *Flushing of the face

 *Redness of the eyes, or a rash.

Later symptoms can include;

*Low blood pressure.

 *Kidney failure


*Avoid contact with rodent urine, droppings, saliva, and nesting materials.

*Observe safety measures when cleaning rodent-infested areas.

Call or visit the nearest hospital if you exhibit any of the above symptoms.

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