Date of Graduation

Spring 5-20-2021

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)


College of Arts and Sciences


Environmental Management

First Advisor

Tracy Benning


Sin Nombre hantavirus is a rare rodent-borne pathogen that causes Hantavirus Cardiopulmonary Syndrome (HCPS), a disease with a 35% fatality rate in humans. The main rodent host of Sin Nombre hantavirus is the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), one of the most prolific, best studied and highly adaptable rodent species in North America. Deer mice are hyper-reservoirs, carrying Sin Nombre virus, plague (Yersinia pestis) and the Peromyscus species carry Lyme disease. Although deer mice have been shown to react positively to wildfire, current assessments of Sin Nombre hantavirus risk to humans and climate change do not consider increasing fire risk. In order to assess the effects of wildfire, human interference and climate change on the human-pathogen risk of Sin Nombre hantavirus in North America, a cross-disciplinary literature review was performed. Climate change and human interference has already increased wildfire incidents, extended wildfire seasons, and intensified drought; all of which are expected to worsen as climate change progresses. Deer mice population’s positive reaction to increased fire and preference for burned areas was found to be significant enough to warrant better monitoring of wildfire incidents across the United States, especially in areas of fragmentation and ecosystem disruption as these conditions may lead to increased incidence of Sin Nombre hantavirus. Future pathogenic hotspots may be determined by creating a comprehensive monitoring system using remote sensing of total fire (wildfire and agricultural burning) across North America which currently does not exist. Expansion of public health and increased testing in North America is recommended to reduce risk.