In a follow-up to an earlier report on a suspect hantavirus case in a La Plata County, CO resident, The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is now reporting the individual has died from the lethal virus, the Denver Post reports today.
This is the second Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) case reported in Colorado this year and both cases were fatal. CDPHE has documented more than 90 cases of Hantavirus since it began tracking the disease in 1993. More than forty percent of these individuals died from the infection.
Hantavirus is a life-threatening disease spread to humans by rodents that has symptoms similar to influenza.
Hantavirus is carried by rodents, especially deer mice. The virus is found in their urine and feces, but it does not make the animal sick.
It is believed that humans can get sick with this virus if they come in contact with contaminated dust from mice nests or droppings. You may come in contact with the dust when cleaning homes, sheds, or other enclosedareas that have been empty for a long time.
Hantavirus does not spread between humans.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) divides the symptoms of hantavirus between “early” and “late” symptoms.
Early symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups—thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders. These symptoms are universal.
There may also be headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting,diarrhea, and abdominal pain. About half of all HPS patients experience these symptoms.
Four to 10 days after the initial phase of illness, the late symptoms of HPS appear. These include coughing and shortness of breath, with the sensation of, as one survivor put it, a “…tight band around my chest and a pillow over my face” as the lungs fill with fluid.
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.