By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

In a follow-up to a recent report, the Washoe County Health District is reporting a second hantavirus case in recent days. The second Washoe County resident has died becoming the second fatal case of hantavirus since 2017 in the county.

Deer mouse/CDC

“Although hantavirus is extremely rare, when it does occur, the disease can be fatal,” said Dr. Randall Todd, Director of the Washoe County Health District Epidemiology and Public Health Preparedness Division. On average, 38 percent of hantavirus cases are fatal.

Infected rodents, most commonly deer mice, shed the virus in their droppings, urine, and saliva. Hantavirus is mainly transmitted to people when they breathe in air contaminated with the virus. It may also be transmitted if a person touches something contaminated with droppings, urine, or saliva and then touches their nose or mouth. This typically occurs when working or recreating in areas where mouse droppings, urine, or saliva may have collected or when cleaning up rodent droppings or nesting material. Hikers and campers may be at higher risk if they are in areas that are common for heavy rodent infestation such as old cabins, stables, and barns. Scientists also suspect that people can become sick if they eat food contaminated by droppings, urine, or saliva from an infected rodent.

The Health District urges everyone to take precautions when entering spaces where mice may have been, such as storage places, garages, sheds, cabins and barns. Since it is hard to tell if a rodent carries hantavirus, it is best to avoid all wild mice and rats and to safely clean up any rodent urine, droppings, or nests in your home.