International Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)

In the United States and Canada, Sin Nombre virus is responsible for the majority of hantavirus cases leading to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Outside North America, individual cases and small clusters of HPS have been reported in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Panama, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Learn more about HPS in the Americas.

In Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico, viruses similar to Sin Nombre virus have been found in rodents. These particular hantaviruses have not been known to make people sick.

Andes Virus

Andes virus is a type of hantavirus found in rodents in South America. Like other hantaviruses, infection with Andes virus can lead to HPS.

Andes virus is found primarily in Argentina and Chile. While rodents in the United States do not carry Andes virus, the first confirmed importation of Andes virus infection in the United States occurred in January 2018 in a traveler returning from the Andes region of Argentina and Chile.

Andes Virus Transmission

People can become infected with Andes virus if they are exposed to infected rodents or their droppings while in South America. Rodents infected with Andes virus do not appear ill, so there is no way to tell if the rodent is infected.

While it is rare, Andes virus can spread between people through:

  • Direct contact with an ill person or their body fluids (such as blood, saliva, urine, or semen).
  • Spending more than 1 hour in close proximity to an ill person.

If you have symptoms of hantavirus infection and you have been in close contact with either South American rodents, their droppings, or an ill person infected with Andes virus, seek medical care immediately.

Healthcare providers should consider Andes virus in returning travelers with nonspecific febrile illness or acute respiratory disease with a travel history that includes the Andes region of Argentina or Chile in the preceding 6 weeks.

Healthcare providers are at risk of acquiring the Andes virus while caring for a patient. Use standard contact and droplet precautions when managing patients with Andes virus. Learn more about preventing hospital-acquired infections.

Andes Virus Prevention

To prevent Andes virus infection:

  • Avoid areas infested with rodents or with signs of rodent infestation such as droppings.
  • Disinfect areas with signs of rodents.
  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Avoid kissing and sexual intercourse with a patient ill with Andes virus.
  • Avoid sharing close physical space for prolonged time with an ill Andes virus patient.

In addition to Sin Nombre virus and Andes virus, other, rarer hantaviruses that cause HPS are found in the Americas. For current information related to outbreaks of HPS in the Americas, visit the Pan American Health OrganizationExternal (PAHO).