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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) was first reported in the United States in the Southwest in 1993. The Sin Nombre virus is the main cause of HPS reported in the United States, but other hantaviruses cause similar illnesses in other countries. In the United States, the deer mouse is the main reservoir of the virus. Other wild rodents can also be carriers. Infected rodents shed the virus in their urine, saliva, and droppings but do not show any signs of illness. Illness in humans results from inhalation of aerosolized virus-containing rodent excreta. The disease is not spread person-to-person.

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Hantavirus in King County

Purpose of surveillance:

  • To facilitate diagnostic testing of suspected cases
  • To identify sources of infection
  • To facilitate environmental cleanup of rodent-infested areas where cases have occurred

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) case data

Local epidemiology:

No cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) were reported in 2014.

Since 1997, four cases of HPS have been reported in King County; three cases occurred in adult males and one in an adult female. Three cases were most likely exposed in Eastern or Central Washington and one in Idaho. The last fatal case occurred in 1997.

Each year in Washington state between one and five hantavirus cases are reported, usually from the eastern parts of the state.