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Hantavirus case confirmed in southwestern Utah

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Posted at 1:19 PM, Apr 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-07 15:22:07-04

ST. GEORGE, Utah — The Southwest Utah Public Health Department confirmed a Kane County resident has been infected with hantavirus.

According to a statement from the SWUPHD, hantavirus cases are rare in the five-county region, which includes Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane and Washington counties.

The virus is found in the droppings, urine and saliva of rodents, usually deer-mice, the statement said.

“This time of year, a lot of people start spring cleaning in places where rodent droppings are found; such as sheds, barns, and cabins,” says Dr. David Blodgett, SWUPHD Health Officer. “If hantavirus is present, it can be inhaled and cause respiratory illness within a few weeks.”

A hantavirus infection is called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.  The infection starts with flu-like symptoms and is followed by difficulty breathing.  The infection can be fatal.  Treatment includes intensive hospital care to deal with respiratory distress.

The SWUPHD offered the following tips to avoid hantavirus exposure:

Hantavirus infection can be prevented by avoiding contact with rodents, including nests and droppings.

· Seal openings in structures and set mouse traps.

· Allow an infested area to air out for at least thirty minutes before cleaning.

· Clean droppings by spraying with disinfectant (one part bleach to ten parts water works well), then wipe up with disposable paper towels.

· Wear gloves while cleaning or when handling nests or dead mice.

Two Utahns, one in Millard County and one in Salt Lake County, died from hantavirus exposure in 2012.

Related story:
Two Utah deaths from Hantavirus exposure