An Adams County, Colorado man died from hantavirus, according to officials from the Tri-County Health Department. The man died on Nov. 15 from the potentially lethal virus and it is believed he contracted it while doing home plumbing repairs in a small space that had rodent droppings, or while working in a garage that had extensive rodent activity.

Deer mouse Image/CDC
Deer mouse

“This hantavirus contaminated dust may be found in a closed space such as a garage, cabin, barn, shed or any mouse-infested area,” according to Dr. John M. Douglas, Jr., Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department. “It is not transmitted person-to-person, and family pets or livestock are not carriers of the virus.”

Hantavirus is carried by deer mice that are common to rural areas throughout Colorado. Infection can occur if mouse urine and droppings that contain hantavirus are stirred up into the airand inhaled; or if people touch urine, droppings or nesting materials that contain the virus then touch their eyes, nose or mouth; or through a bite. The virus does not spread from person to person.

Deer mice are brown on top and white underneath and have large ears. Common house mice are all gray, have smaller ears and don’t carry hantavirus.

Hantavirus causes death in approximately 40 percent of cases. Symptoms begin from one to six weeks after exposure and include high fever, severe body aches, headache and vomiting. Initially, there are no respiratory symptoms. Because no effective treatment exists for hantavirus, prevention is the key to avoiding infection.

Through December 31, 2013, a total of 637 cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome have been reported in the United States. Of these, 606 cases occurred from 1993-onward, following the initial identification of HPS, whereas 31 cases were retrospectively identified. Thirty-six percent of all reported cases have resulted in death.

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page