ST. GEORGE – The Southwest Utah Public Health Department has confirmed a case of hantavirus infection in Kane County. Hantavirus incidents are rare in the five-county region, with the last case being reported four years ago in Iron County. The virus is found in the droppings, urine, and saliva of rodents, usually deer-mice.
“This time of year, a lot of people start spring cleaning in places where rodent droppings are found, such as sheds, barns, and cabins,” Dr. David Blodgett, SWUPHD Health Officer, said. “If hantavirus is present, it can be inhaled and cause respiratory illness within a few weeks.”
Hantavirus infection, called Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, starts with flu-like symptoms followed by difficulty breathing and can be life-threatening. Treatment includes intensive hospital care to deal with the respiratory distress. Hantavirus is not known to spread person-to-person.
Hantavirus infection can be prevented by avoiding contact with rodents, including nests and droppings.
- Seal openings in structures and set mouse traps
- Allow an infested area to air out for at least thirty minutes before cleaning
- Clean droppings by spraying with disinfectant (one part bleach to ten parts water works well), then wipe up with disposable paper towels
- Wear gloves while cleaning or when handling nests or dead mice
- For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control website