A 69-year-old man from Arauco, Bío Bío region in west-central Chile is the first hantavirus death recorded in 2017, according to a Bio Bio Chile report (computer translated).

Deer mouse/CDC
Deer mouse/CDC

This is the fifth hantavirus case reported in the country year to date.

According to the health officer of Bío Bío, Mauricio Careaga, it is believed the man while gardening at his commune.

Hantavirus is carried by certain species of rats and mice that shed the virus in their urine, droppings and saliva. The virus can be transmitted to people when nesting materials or dust contaminated by infected rat or mouse urine, droppings and saliva are stirred up, allowing the virus to be breathed in by humans.

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Early symptoms of hantavirus infection include fatigue, fever and muscle aches that may be accompanied by headaches, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Later symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath. If hantavirus is suspected, people should contact their health care provider immediately and mention any potential exposure to rodents, their nests or their waste.