Southern Utah News Articles
Hantavirus case reported in Coconino County
Coconino County Public Health Services District (CCPHSD) officials have announced a confirmed case of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) in a Coconino County resident. The individual has recovered from the illness.
This is the second confirmed case of HPS this year in Coconino County. The first case was reported in January, and resulted in the death of the individual.
It is unknown where the current case contracted the virus. HPS is not limited to one geographic location. It can be present in any area in northern Arizona where there is rodent activity, even if mice are never seen. HPS is transmitted to people who 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.
“It is extremely important that individuals are aware of their surroundings while at home, work and while recreating. If there is rodent activity, taking appropriate precautions can help protect against HPS,” said Marie Peoples, CCPHSD Chief Health Officer.
Including this case, there have been five confirmed cases of hantavirus reported in Coconino County since January 2006, resulting in two deaths from complications from the illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPS has been reported in 35 states.
The illness starts with fever, headache and muscle aches, and progresses rapidly to severe difficulty in breathing and, in some cases, death.
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 in the infested area 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 (such as one part bleach to eight parts water) 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 wood piles, 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, can pose a risk for hantavirus exposure. A few precautions should be taken when camping, 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.
For more information regarding HPS, call the Coconino County Public Health Services District at 928-679-8750, toll-free at 1-877-679-7272 or visit www.coconino.az.gov/health or www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/hps.