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Denver: Rare hantavirus case reported, 2nd case since 1993

A Denver resident was recently diagnosed with hantavirus, a rare but serious and potentially fatal respiratory disease carried by infected deer mice. No evidence of rodents was found during an inspection of the individual’s residence, but it is likely the individual contracted the virus in Denver.

Peromyscus maniculatus (deer mouse)
Image/CDC

This is the second case of hantavirus in Denver since tracking began in 1993.

Hantavirus cannot be spread from person to person or from pets to person. The virus is found in urine, saliva and droppings of infected deer mice. Deer mice are not usually found in urban areas, and hantavirus cases most often occur in rural or suburban areas. Deer mice can be identified by their large ears and white undersides. The common house mouse does not transmit Hantavirus.

Humans can become infected by breathing in the virus when stirring up dust from mouse nests or mouse droppings in areas with poor ventilation, or when handling or being bitten by mice. Most people who contract hantavirus do so during the spring and summer, often while cleaning homes and yards.

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Hantavirus symptoms usually appear one to two weeks after contraction, but can appear as long as eight weeks after exposure to infected rodents or their urine, saliva or droppings. Symptoms include fever, chills, headaches and severe pain in the legs and back. If you believe you or a family member have been exposed to hantavirus, contact your physician immediately.

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To protect yourself from hantavirus:

As of January 2017, a total of 728 cases of Hantavirus Infection have been reported in the United States. Thirty-six percent of all reported HPS cases have resulted in death.

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