Hantavirus impacts your body in a number of different ways. The manner in which hantavirus effects your body depends upon the stage of the infection. In some cases, a hantavirus infection can result in serious illness and even death.
During the first decade after which hantavirus was reported in the United States, about 600 people contracted the virus. Of that number, approximately 200 people died because of hantavirus infection.
Hantavirus may start impacting your body within a week after infection. However, the virus may have no impact on your body for six to eight weeks.
Early Stage of Hantavirus Infection
During the early stages of a hantavirus infection, the disease effects your body in a number of unpleasant, but not necessarily serious ways. The impact on your body during the early stages of a hantavirus infection results in symptoms that mimic the flu. These include:
- Muscle aches
- Abdominal pain
Intermediate Stage of Hantavirus Infection
Following the early stage of hantavirus infection, an intermediate stage commences. During the intermediate stage, hantavirus impacts your body in number of ways. These include:
- Cough producing secretions
- Shortness of breath
- Low blood pressure
- Reduced heart efficiency
- Lungs begin to fill with blood and other fluids
If the infection progresses from this juncture, the onset of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome becomes a possibility.
The Final Stage: Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
The ultimate or final stage of hantavirus infection is what is known as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome occurs when the virus impacts the capillaries in your lungs. Specifically, the virus causes the capillaries to begin leaking blood into your lungs. If this filling of the lungs with blood and other fluids continues, the condition ultimately becomes fatal.
In fairly short speed, your lungs fill with blood and other fluids. There is no cure or vaccine for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Treatment for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome requires what medically is known as supportive therapy.
Supportive therapy to treat hantavirus pulmonary syndrome involves the use of mechanical ventilation. The key to this type of treatment being successful is getting a patient with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome into an ICU and on a mechanical ventilator as soon as possible. The best hope for bringing the progression of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome to a stop is early admission to an ICU and placement on a ventilator
In about 30 percent of cases of hantavirus infection, the ventilator treatment fails to stop progression of the disease. If that occurs, the next effect on your body from hantavirus infection and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is organ failure. The heart is typically the first organ (beyond the lungs) to be impacted by end stage hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Ultimately, however, other bodily organs will also begin to fail, including the kidneys and liver.
As organ failure spreads and progresses, hantavirus and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome has the ultimate impact on your body. Bodily organs begin to shut down and death occurs. Oftentimes the specific cause of death is heart attack caused by hantavirus pulmonary syndrome and the hantavirus inspection.
The Origin of Hantavirus in the United States
The first time a hantavirus infection was diagnosed in the United States was in the Four Corners region of the country. Initially, because the virus appeared to be confined to this geographic area, the illness associated with the virus became known as Four Corners Disease.
In fairly short speed, Native Americans from the Four Corner’s area lodged protests against calling the ailment Four Corner’s Disease. They argued that calling the disease Four Corners Disease would keep tourists away from the region.
The most common way a person in the United States contracts hantavirus is through mouse and rat droppings and urine, particularly dried rat droppings and urine. The reality is that dried rodent droppings crumble when you touch them. This results in the dust associated with fees and urine becoming airborne.
If the dust from these two sources becomes airborne, this dust can end up being breathed in. If the dust contains hantavirus, a person can become infected with it.
In the United States, hantavirus cannot be spread from one person to another. This can happen in other countries, because there is a different strain of hantavirus. The fact that hantavirus cannot be spread from person to person in the United States at this juncture in time doesn’t mean that this will not start occurring at some point in the future. Keep in mind that the hantavirus has only been infected people in the United States since the mid-1990s.