Clinical Overview of Hantavirus

Key points

  • Hantaviruses are a family of viruses found around the world that can cause serious illnesses and death.
  • These viruses cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).
  • They are spread mainly by rodents.
  • Clinical providers should test for hantavirus in individuals with symptoms consistent with hantavirus infection and rodent exposure.
  • CDC can assist clinical providers in diagnosing and testing hantavirus.


Hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents. They can cause serious illness or death in people. Most hantaviruses are not transmitted from person to person.

Different types of hantaviruses are found in the U.S., and most can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), a potentially serious disease that can cause damage to the lungs. Non-HPS hantavirus infection can also occur, where patients experience non-specific viral symptoms, but no cardio-pulmonary symptoms.

Another potentially serious disease caused by hantaviruses is hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS), primarily found in Europe and Asia. However, Seoul virus, a hantavirus that causes HFRS, is found worldwide, including in the United States.

While there are some differences in the progression of the illness, the same diagnostic methods are used to diagnose both HPS and HFRS.

Clinicians with a patient experiencing symptoms compatible with HPS, non-HPS, or HFRS and a potential rodent exposure should contact their state, tribal, local, or territorial health department.

CDC's Viral Special Pathogens Branch (VSPB) is available for consultation or diagnostic testing by calling the CDC Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 and requesting VSPB's on-call epidemiologist. VSPB cannot accept specimens without prior consultation.

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