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The Washoe County Health District (WCHD) is reporting a confirmed Hantavirus case in a Washoe County resident.

Peromyscus maniculatus (deer mouse)

The person is a male in his 60s who has been hospitalized after being exposed to rodent droppings weeks prior. There is no update on the person’s condition and the investigation is ongoing.

This is the first Hantavirus case reported in Washoe County since November 2022.  The last Hantavirus death was reported in December 2020.

WCHD encourages Washoe County residents to be careful and take necessary precautions to prevent contracting Hantavirus, which is a rare respiratory disease that can cause serious illness and can sometimes be fatal. It spreads by breathing in or touching viral particles of infected rodents, most commonly deer mice.  Anyone who encounters rodents carrying the virus is at risk, but 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.

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Early Hantavirus symptoms can include fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, chills and dizziness 1-8 weeks after exposure. Late symptoms develop four to 10 days after initial symptoms and include coughing, shortness of breath and fluid buildup in the lungs. Learn more about signs and symptoms.

There is no specific treatment for hantavirus; however, anyone with these symptoms after contact with deer mice or their waste should seek medical attention immediately. If infected individuals are recognized early and receive medical care, health outcomes may improve.

Prevention is key; always take precautions when cleaning to reduce your risk of getting sick:

  • Do not sweep or vacuum the area with urine, droppings, or nesting material.
  • A solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water should be used when cleaning urine and/or droppings (1.5 cups bleach to 1 gallon of water). Spray the solution on areas with rodent droppings and leave for 5 minutes before wiping the area with disposable paper towels or cloth.
  • Wear gloves (i.e., latex, vinyl, rubber) and a face mask to avoid touching or breathing in viral particles.
  • Identify areas where mice are and plug openings and set traps; a deer mouse can fit through an opening the size of a nickel.

Seek professional assistance from a licensed pest control operator for additional guidance to prevent deer mice from accessing household and living areas.

As of the end of 2021, 850 cases of hantavirus disease were reported in the United States since surveillance began in 1993. These were all laboratory-confirmed cases and included HPS and non-pulmonary hantavirus infection.

94% of hantavirus cases in the US occurred west of the Mississippi River.

35% of cases have resulted in death.

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