Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease in humans caused by infection with a rodent infected with hantavirus.  Rodent infestation remains the primary risk for hantavirus exposure. Healthy individuals can be at risk for HPS infection if exposed to the virus.


  • To date, no cases of HPS have been reported in the United States in which the virus was transmitted from one person to another.
  • Through December 31, 2013, a total of 637 cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome have been reported in the United States.
  • Thirty-six percent of all reported cases have resulted in death.
  • The persons ill with HPS; 63% have been male, 37% female.
  • HPS can strike anyone; however, Caucasians currently account for 78% of all cases.
  • Cases have been reported in 34 states (see map). More than 95% of reported cases have occurred in states west of the Mississippi River.


  • Rodent control is the primary strategy for preventing hantavirus infections.
  • Rodent populations near human communities should be controlled.
  • Individuals should avoid contact with rodent urine, droppings, saliva, and nesting materials.
  • Wear proper PPE when cleaning rodent-infested areas.
  • Transmission may also occur when infected urine or other rodent materials are directly introduced into broken skin or onto the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth.

It is wise to avoid close contact with rodents in general.

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • What work areas would you most likely have this exposure?
  • What precautions should you use before eating or drinking?