Can Dogs Get Hantavirus?

Hantavirus is no laughing matter. It is a serious viral infection that can cause a 50% mortality rate in people - even with intensive care treatment.

With an introduction like that, you'd think Hantavirus would have more awareness than Rabies...but it doesn't. Why? Probably because it's not a 'sexy' disease where slavering animals play a role in transmission. No. Instead, this potentially deadly disease is spread when people come into contact with infected mouse urine or droppings.

In the early stages of Hantavirus, a person experiences fever, chills, and muscles 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 such a serious disease, you would rightly be concerned to know all the risk factors.

Can Dogs Get Hantavirus?  

Phew! Hantavirus has a tight life cycle that involves mice (who don't become ill) and people (who do). Your dog can't contract Hantavirus, nor can they carry it. Indeed, the closest a dog can come to infecting a person is to bring a mouse into the house.

Does My Dog Have Hantavirus?

No. This is a mouse to human infection, only.

However dogs may develop similar symptoms to the condition in people - but these signs are NOT due to Hantavirus, rather another problem

In short, if you dog shows any of the above signs, get them checked by a vet. Whilst they don't have Hantavirus and aren't a risk to you, they do have a problem which 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 symptoms.

To do this the vet will take a history and examine the animal. From this they'll draw up a problem list and then run tests to rule a specific diagnosis in or out. Once the problem is identified, then specific therapy is started.

How is Hantavirus Similar in Dogs and Humans?

A-ha! Trick question, it isn't similar, because dogs don't get Hantavirus. Rather they may have symptoms that superficially look like Hantavirus...but aren't!

How is Hantavirus Different in Dogs and Humans?

It's different because a dog is at no risk of catching Hantavirus. Thus, you don't need to worry about your fur-friend infecting you or becoming ill himself. However, any dog showing similar symptoms, such as fever or sore limbs, should still see a vet because they have a medical condition that needs attention.

Case Study

One weekend, Mr. X 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 history the vet realizes this female dog was in heat three months ago, and 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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