The Michigan State Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has detected a first case of hantavirus (HPS) in an adult Washtenaw County woman.
According to the statement published by the MDHHS on its website, the woman had to be hospitalized for a serious lung disease. Possibly the woman was infected while cleaning an unoccupied house that showed signs of active rodent infestation.
What is hantavirus?
Hantavirus infections are associated with domestic, occupational, or recreational activities that put humans in contact with infected rodents. Most of the cases have occurred in adults in spring and summer.
“HPS, caused by some strains of hantavirus, is a rare but serious and sometimes fatal respiratory disease that can flare up between one and five weeks after a person has been exposed to fresh urine, droppings or saliva from infected rodents,” Joneigh Khaldun, executive medical director and deputy director of health at MDHHS, has explained.
The first time that hantavirus was detected in humans was in 1933, in the southwestern United States. Since then, HPS has already infected people from other parts of the country and the continent.
Symptoms of the virus
Symptoms of HPS include fever, chills, body aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain; in addition to coughing and shortness of breath. The mortality rate for HPS is 40%, and the greatest risk of exposure occurs when staying in enclosed buildings infested with rodents.
Humans become infected when dried rodent droppings are volatilized and inhaled, enter wounds on the skin or mucous membranes, or when they ingest contaminated food or water. Rodent bites can also transmit the disease. When cleaning a rodent-infested building, it is recommended that you ventilate the place for about 30 minutes before entering, wear latex gloves, and use a disinfectant solution.