Hantavirus Death Confirmed in Coconino County, Arizona
Native News Network Staff in Native Health. Discussion »
FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA Coconino County Public Health Services District officials confirmed that a Flagstaff area woman died recently from complications of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease spread by infected rodent droppings.
HPS is spead by wild mice,
primarily deer mice.
It is unknown where the woman contracted the virus. Nor was her racial or ethnic revealed when asked by the Native News Network.
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is transmitted to people that come into contact with or breathe infected urine, droppings and/or saliva of wild mice, primarily deer mice. Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry Hantavirus is at risk of HPS. The illness is not spread from person to person.
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome was first identified in 1993 when an outbreak of this infectious lung disease took place in the southwestern United States on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
The illness starts with fever, headache and muscle aches, and progresses rapidly to severe difficulty in breathing and, in some cases, death.
The last reported case in Coconino County was 2007 and the individual ultimately recovered. Including this case, there have been 22 confirmed Hantavirus cases in Arizona since 2006, 11 of which have resulted in death.
“It is extremely important that the public takes precautions when entering and cleaning sheds, garages, campers, cabins, barns and other buildings to protect themselves from HPS,”
said Randy Phillips, CCPHSD Environmental Services Division Manager.
To prevent HPS, public health officials recommend the following:
Proper clean-up methods for areas that may have rodent activity:
- Open all door and windows, leave them open for 30 minutes before cleaning.
- Do not stir up dust by vacuuming, sweeping, or any other means.
- When rodent droppings or nests are found in and around the home, spray them liberally with a household disinfectant and allow them to soak for at least 15 minutes. Any rodent droppings and rodent nests should be sprayed with a pesticide to kill fleas before disinfecting or disposing the carcasses.
- After disinfecting, wear rubber gloves and clean up the droppings with disposable materials such as paper towels, rags or disposable mop heads.
- Seal all materials, droppings or nests in double plastic bags and dispose of them in the trash.
Rodent-proof your home:
- Prevent rodents from entering the home by plugging or sealing all holes and gaps to the outside greater than 1/4 inch in diameter. Use steel wool, thick wire screen, metal flashing or cement to seal holes.
- Eliminate or reduce rodent shelter around the home by removing outdoor junk and clutter, and by moving woodpiles, lumber, hay bales etc., as far away from the house as possible.
- Do not make food easily available to rodents. Do not leave pet food in dishes.
- Dispose of garbage in trash cans with tight fitting lids.
- Certain forms of outdoor recreation, such as camping and hiking, can pose a risk for Hantavirus exposure.
A few precautions should be taken, including:
- Campers should not pitch tents or place sleeping bags in close proximity to rodent nests, burrows, or in areas of heavy rodent activity.
- Before use, properly clean tents and other camping gear that have been stored where rodents may have had access.
- If possible, do not sleep on the bare ground and zip tents closed to keep animals out.
- Use only bottled water or water that has been disinfected by filtration, boiling, chlorination, or iodination for drinking, cooking, washing dishes and brushing teeth.
One year ago this week, a young girl died from the disease on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
posted June 8, 2013 8:50 am edt