Hantavirus case confirmed in Grant County

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Grant County Health District/courtesy photo A case of the potentially deadly hantavirus, which is spread by deer mice like this one, has been reported in Grant County.

MOSES LAKE — A Grant County resident has been confirmed as the first case of hantavirus in the county since 2012.The unidentified person has been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, said Heather Massart of the Grant County Health District.

The person is believed to have come in contact with infected deer mouse droppings while cleaning out a vehicle, Massart said.

Hantavirus killed two people in unrelated incidents in Grant County in 2012, Massert said. An average of one to five hantavirus cases are reported in Washington each year.

The disease attacks the respiratory system; people who get it usually end up in the hospital and about one of three people diagnosed with hantavirus die, according to a health district press release. Symptoms usually appear a week to six weeks after infection. Early signs include fever and headaches, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, chills and muscle aches. People who may have been exposed to rodents or rodent-infested spaces should consult a doctor immediately, the press release said.

Hantavirus is not spread by person-to-person contact. “The greatest risk occurs when people enter enclosed areas with rodent infestation and poor air circulation, such as sheds, and other outbuildings, cabins, building crawl spaces, vehicles and campers,” the press release said.

The best way to avoid the disease altogether is to avoid wild rodents. Sources of food, water and shelter should be eliminated and “rodent-proofed.” People should seal cracks that are larger than one-quarter inch in any building. That includes window and door sills, around pipes under sinks, in foundations and attics, or any other places rodents might enter.

If rodents already have found their way in, people should take precautions when cleaning up. Spaces should be aired out before people start cleaning; doors and windows should be opened for at least 30 minutes. People should avoid vacuuming, sweeping or stirring up dust.

People should wear rubber or plastic gloves, wash the gloves with soap and water before removing, then wash their hands. Dust masks will not protect against the virus, the press release said. Any areas with mice droppings should be sprayed with a mix of bleach and water, 1˝ cups of bleach per gallon of water. Once the area has been sprayed, it should be allowed to soak for at least 10 minutes. The material should be removed with wet paper towels, and the area mopped or sponged with bleach solution. Any upholstered furniture, carpets or car interiors should be steam-cleaned or shampooed. “Areas with heavy infestation (piled-up droppings, numerous nests and dead rodents) require precautions. Professional cleaning and/or pest control services may be needed.”

Dead rodents should be sprayed with disinfectant, sealed in a bag and double-bagged, then can be thrown away.

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