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Can Dogs Get Hantavirus?


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Hantavirus is a serious viral infection that can cause a 50% mortality rate in people – even with intensive care treatment. This potentially deadly disease is spread when people come into contact with infected rodent urine, saliva, or droppings. 

In the early stages of Hantavirus, a person experiences fever, chills, and muscle aches (flu-like symptoms), but these pass and are replaced by headache, shortness of breath and coughing. In addition, the patient may then develop bleeding disorders and kidney failure. 

With Hantavirus being such a serious disease, a person should be informed about all the risk factors.

Can Dogs Get Hantavirus?  

Thankfully, no. Canines, felines and other types of animals are not susceptible to the illness. Rodents are the carriers of the disease. 

Bringing home a "treasured catch" from a playtime outside can be a way that your pet puts you at risk of Hantavirus, however, which is transmitted through contaminated rodent droppings, urine, saliva, or nesting materials. Particles that contain the virus can be released into the air and breathed in. If a person is cleaning a shed, for example, they may stir up the particles as they sweep the interior.

Rodents from the pet store, like rats and hamsters, are not carriers of the disease so there is no risk to cleaning their cage or handling them.

Does My Dog Have Hantavirus?

No. This is a wild rodent to human infection, only. However, dogs may develop similar symptoms to the condition that is seen in people exposed to Hantavirus. These signs are not due to Hantavirus, but another health condition. 

In short, if your dog shows any of the above signs, have them checked by a vet. While they don't have Hantavirus and aren't a risk to you, they do have a problem that requires treatment.

How Do I Treat My Dog's Condition?

This isn't so much about treating Hantavirus (since dogs don't suffer from this condition) but determining the cause of their similar symptoms. 

To do this, the vet will take a history and examine your dog. From the results, they will draw up a problem list and run tests to rule a specific diagnosis in or out. Once the problem is identified, the appropriate therapy will begin..

Case Study

One weekend, a dog owner takes on the task of cleaning out an old shed. His dog decides to help and flushes out a nest of mice. A few days later the dog becomes unwell, goes off her food, and is feverish. 

Concerned about Hantavirus, the owner takes her to the vet. From the dog's recent medical history, the vet realizes this female dog was in heat three months ago, and now has a vaginal discharge. An ultrasound scan shows an enlarged womb, and pyometra (pus in the womb) is diagnosed. The owner gives consent for the dog's surgery to remove the infected uterus. 

The operation goes well, and two weeks later the dog has more energy than she's had in a long time.

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