Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (hereafter referred to as HPS) has been recognized as a disease in North America only recently, having received widespread attention after a cluster of deaths in an arid portion of the Southwestern United States known as the Four Corners area. The victims were young Native Americans, killed by the pulmonary edema (or swelling) characteristic of the condition. The syndrome was named the above-mentioned HPS after a six month investigation. The virus that causes the syndrome remains unknown, and was named Sin Nombre Virus; translated from Spanish it becomes roughly The Virus With no Name, or The Nameless Virus.

As its name would suggest, HPS attacks the lungs. Symptoms manifest within a week of infection, and appear flulike: fever, chills, headache, and gastrointestinal problems. The disease is carried by rodents, transmitted through breathing particles of infected urine or fecal matter. Frighteningly, virtually all field mice tested in Southern California carried the virus...

Treatment of HPS is, as is the case with all viruses, largely support-oriented. Monitoring of the lungs is done by catheterizing the pulmonary artery. Cases in the States are relatively rare; usually, sufferers are administered heavy antibiotics until positive identification of The Nameless Virus is made.

Prevention takes precedence over treatment. Again, rodents are the chief carriers of the virus. They are incontinent and therefore deposit droppings at random locations. They do, however, have poor eyesight and tend to stick to walls. Extreme care should be taken when hunting for the critters--in particular, do not vaccum or sweep droppings. This excites infected particles and is probably the most dangerous measure that can be taken. Remember, the virus can be ingested through the lungs. Any measure to clean up infectious material should be taken while wearing a mask; the fibrous devices sold at hardware stores are recommended.

Thanks to mirv for attesting that the best way to clean up possibly infected rodent matter is to get it with a wet mop.

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