The Grant County Health District has reported a confirmed Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) case in a young adult last week, according to local media.
The patient presented with flu-like symptoms in late April, which then progressed into respiratory failure that required hospitalization. The patient is currently recovering at home.
This is the first case of HPS reported in Washington this year and the fourth case reported in Grant County in the past decade.
People can be exposed to hantavirus by breathing in air contaminated with the virus when fresh rodent dropping, urine, or nesting materials are disturbed. The greatest risk is associated with exposure to rodent droppings in closed, dry areas. Hantavirus is not transmitted from person to person.
Symptoms of HPS can occur up to six weeks after exposure, with most cases showing symptoms within about two weeks. Early symptoms commonly include fever, muscle and body aches, fatigue, headache, dizziness, chills, nausea and vomiting. Within a few days the illness progresses to include coughing and severe shortness of breath as the lungs fill with fluid. Anyone with exposure to wild rodents who experiences these symptoms should contact their physician and tell them about their exposure.
District health officials say you can prevent hantavirus by avoiding wild rodents and keeping them out of the places you live, work and play. Remove their sources of food, water, and shelter and keep these areas rodent-proofed. Seal up cracks and gaps in buildings that are larger than ¼ inch, including window and door sills, under sinks around the pipes, in foundations, attics, and any rodent entry hole.
In addition, If you encounter an area with known or suspected rodent infestation, it’s important to take precautions, especially when entering enclosed spaces where rodents have been.
Before entering, “air-out” the space by opening multiple doors and windows for at least 30 minutes to allow fresh air to circulate. Leave the area while it is airing out.
• Wear rubber or plastic gloves. A dust mask may provide some protection against dust, molds, and insulation fibers, but does not protect against viruses. A properly fitted N-95 mask will offer better protection.
• Do not vacuum, sweep, or otherwise stir up dust.
• Thoroughly spray contaminated areas including dead mice, droppings, and nests with a 1-to-10-part mixture of bleach and water. Soak area for 10 minutes, then remove all the nest material, mice or droppings with damp paper towels, and place all the material, including the paper towels, into a sealed plastic bag and into an outdoor garbage receptacle. Mop or sponge the area with bleach solution.
• Wash gloves with disinfectant or soap and water before taking them off. Remove the gloves, then wash hands with soap and water.
• Steam clean or shampoo upholstered furniture, carpets and car interiors, and wash any bedding or clothing in hot water if you see any rodent urine or droppings on them.
• Areas with heavy infestation (piled up droppings, numerous nests and dead rodents) require extra precaution. Professional cleaning and/or pest control services may be needed.
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