WASHOE COUNTY, Nev. (KOLO) – The Washoe County Health District reminds residents to avoid areas with potential deer mouse activity after a resident became infected with a hantavirus and died.
This is the second fatal case of Hantavirus in Washaw County since 2017.
"Although Hantavirus is extremely rare when it occurs, the disease can be fatal," says Dr. Randal Todd, director of epidemiology and health care preparation in Washaw County. On average, 38% of cases of hantavirus are fatal.
Infected rodents, most commonly deer mice, throw the virus into discards, urine and saliva. Hantavirus is mainly transmitted to humans when they inhale air contaminated by the virus. It can also be delivered if a person touches something contaminated with ejection, urine or saliva, and then touches his nose or mouth. This usually occurs when working or reproducing in areas where there may have been accumulations of mouse, urine or saliva discards, or when cleaning up rodent discards or nesting material.
Tourists and campers may be at higher risk if they are located in areas that are common to infestation with heavy rodents, such as old cabins, stables and barns. Scientists also suspect that people can get sick if they eat food contaminated with excretion, urine or saliva from an infected rodent.
The Health District urges everyone to take precautions when entering rooms where there may have been mice, such as storage sites, etc. garages, sheds, cabins and barns. Because it is difficult to tell whether a rodent carries a hantavirus, it is best to avoid all wild mice and rats and safely clean any urine, ejection, or nests of rodents in your home.
The Health District proposes to follow these instructions when cleaning in rodent-active areas:
Do not clean or vacuum the area with urine, discard or breeding material.
A solution of bleach 1
Wear gloves (ie latex, vinyl, rubber) and a face mask to avoid touching or breathing viral particles.
Identify the areas in which mice enter and insert
Identify and block openings that may allow rodents to enter. The deer mouse can fit through a nickel-sized hole.
For more information on Hantavirus, click here.