By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Carson City Health and Human Services (CCHHS) is reporting the first case of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome in Douglas County. The individual is a Douglas County resident who was exposed to the virus while spring cleaning.

Deer mouse/CDC

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease in humans caused by an infection with hantaviruses. HPS is a rare disease with only 14 cases being reported in Nevada, outside of Clark County, since 2005.

Hantaviruses are spread by certain species of rats and mice that shed the virus in their urine, dropping, and saliva. The virus can be transmitted to people when contaminated nesting materials or dust are stirred up and breathed in by humans. The virus is not spread from person to person. HPS is frequently associated with spring cleaning.

CCHHS reminds everyone to protect themselves from hantavirus exposure by taking the following safety precautions:

  • Seal openings that may allow rats and mice to enter homes and workplaces.
  • Remove brush, woodpiles, trash, and other items that may attract rats and mice.
  • Tightly close garbage cans, pet food containers and other food sources.
  • Before cleaning up nests or droppings found inside, open windows and doors to ventilate the area for at least 30 minutes.
  • If any dust will be stirred up, goggles and a HEPA or N-95 mask are recommended.
  • Wear protective gloves to handle dead mice and rats or to clean up nesting areas, urine, or droppings.
  • Do not stir up dust by sweeping or vacuuming. Dampen areas before cleanup with either a 1-to-10 bleach-water mixture or another effective disinfectant, to eliminate dust and begin inactivating the virus. After 30 minutes, apply the viricide again and immediately begin the cleaning process.
  • Use the same viricide and apply to dead rodents, nests, urine, and droppings before cleaning, with the same 30-minute interval and reapplication process.

Early symptoms of hantavirus infection include fatigue, fever and muscle aches. These symptoms 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 inform the practitioner of exposure to rodents, their waste, or their nesting material.