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Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)

Hantavirus is a virus carried by some wild rodents, including deer mice, in Washington State. Hantavirus can cause a rare but deadly disease called Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). You can get HPS by breathing in Hantavirus. This can happen when rodent urine and droppings that contain Hantavirus are stirred up in the air.

You can also get infected by touching mouse or rodent urine, droppings or nesting materials that contain the virus, and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. It’s also possible to get HPS from a mouse or rodent bite. The disease does not spread from person to person.


3 cases of Hantavirus and two deaths reported as of May 1, 2017 in Washington State. Since discovery in the U.S. in 1993, there have been four reported cases of Hantavirus in Franklin County (one each in 2017, 2009, 1998 and 1996) and one in Benton County (2007). Through January 6, 2016, a total of 690 cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome have been reported in the United States, and one out of three people diagnosed with HPS have died.  

Map: Cumulative Case Count Per State (Valid as of January 8, 2016)

Total Cases: N-659 in 31 States

Not displayed: 31 cases with unknown exposure; 2 cases with presumed exposure outside the USA


Symptoms begin one to eight weeks after inhaling the virus or coming in contact with it. HPS typically starts with three to five days of illness that is similar to the flu including fever, severe body aches, headache, vomiting and tiredness. As the disease gets worse it causes coughing, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Anyone ill with these symptoms should see their doctor immediately and tell them if they had exposure to deer mice or rodent-occupied environments. HPS can progress quickly; therefore, it is extremely important to seek medical treatment if you are ill and feel you may have been exposed.

There is no specific treatment for HPS; therefore, prevention is the key to avoiding Hantavirus infection.

Cleaning Recommendations

Hantavirus Poster.pdf

Additional Precautions To Provide Protection Against Hantavirus Include:

  • Mouse-proof buildings by plugging holes or other mouse entryways that are larger than ¼”.
  • Make home and work areas unattractive to mice by keeping indoor areas clean especially kitchens. Store food in rodent-proof containers. This includes pet, livestock and bird food.
  • Properly throw away garbage in sealed containers.
  • Store firewood at least 100 feet from the house. Keep plants around the house short and well-trimmed.


Deer Mouse Description

The deer mouse is about six inches long from the nose to the tip of its tail. It is grayish to light brown on top, with a white belly, large ears, and a furry tail that is white on the underside. They have large ears relative to their head size. Unlike deer mice, house mice are all gray and have small ears and are not associated with this illness.





More Information

Washington State Department of Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

King County Public Health


Printable Resources at the CDC

"Facts About Hantavirus" Brochure
Download an Adobe Acrobat Reader format (PDF) version of the "Facts About Hantavirus" brochure. This brochure provides detailed information for prevention of Hantavirus in and around your home.

"Información sobre los Hantavirus: Lo que Usted Debe Saber para Prevenir la Enfermedad del Síndrome Pulmonar por Hantavirus"
This Spanish brochure provides detailed information for prevention of Hantavirus in and around your home.

Campers and Hikers Brochure
Download an Adobe Acrobat Reader format (PDF) version of the "Prevent Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome" Campers and Hikers brochure. This brochure provides recommended prevention information for outdoor activities.


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Benton Franklin Health District
7102 W Okanogan Pl
Kennewick WA
(509) 460 4200
412 W Clark
Pasco WA
(509) 547-9737

Emergency Contact Information

Personal Emergency for Medical, Police, Fire, or Other: 911
Washington Poison Center: 1 (800) 222-1222 (www.wapc.org)
Washington Community Resource Information: 211 (www.win211.org)
BFHD Public Health Emergency/Imminent Health Hazard After-Hours Reporting: 509-543-3851
The public can reference BFHD policies available in Kennewick office.
BFHD Privacy Statement:English / Spanish
Copies of the annual report available at all BFHD offices.
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