By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Officials with the Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department (SWNPHD) have confirmed a hantavirus case in the district, the first such case reported in six years.

Deer mouse/CDC

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hantavirus infection is usually found in rural areas where forest, fields and farms offer suitable habitat for rodents. Hantavirus in the US is spread to people from rodents like mice, most commonly when fresh rodent urine, droppings, or nesting materials are stirred up. Tiny droplets containing the virus get into the air and are then breathed in. “This can easily happen when cleaning out grain bins, barns or old abandoned buildings,” states Melissa Propp, RN.

Symptoms of hantavirus usually start out with vague flu-like symptoms approximately several days to 6 weeks after exposure. A fever for 3-5 days, headache, muscle aches, chills, non-productive cough, nausea, vomiting or other gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea or abdominal pain are common.

Tiredness and lightheadedness may also be present. Most people recover fully but some cases of hantavirus may be severe or even fatal. “If you have flu-like symptoms and have cleaned out a building with evidence of rodents, alert your provider,” states Propp.

Subscribe to Outbreak News TV

It is important not to stir up dust by sweeping or vacuuming. Hantavirus can be prevented by following
these tips:

• Air out the building for a least thirty minutes prior to starting your cleaning. Open doors and
windows to allow good air flow and leave the area while airing out.
• Wear gloves while cleaning up urine and droppings. A dust mask may also be worn as
additional protection.
• Dampen the urine, droppings and nesting materials with a mixture of 1-part bleach to 10 parts
water or use a disinfectant. Allow to soak for 5 minutes prior to removal.
• Clean counters, cupboards and other surfaces with disposable towels.
• Mop floors rather than sweeping or vacuuming.
• For dirt floors wet the area down with bleach solution or disinfectant before removal of debris
to keep down the dust.
• Disinfect any tools used in the cleaning process with a bleach solution.
• Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after cleaning tools and disposing of materials.