CATEGORY: News Release
RELEASE DATE: For Immediate Release
CONTACT PERSON: Alyssa Spradley, Environmental Health Director
Five (5) people thus far, have been reported to have contracted Hantavirus in Washington State this year. Three (3) of the five (5) cases resulted in fatality, including a resident of Spokane County. There have only been thirty-one (31) confirmed cases throughout the State of Washington since the year 2000, including the five (5) this year. This is the highest number of reported cases in Washington since 1999.
Hantavirus is a rare respiratory disease contracted from inhalation of contaminated rodent urine and droppings, touching the rodent and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth, or from a rodent bite. The only species in the Northwest that carries the virus is the deer mouse. You cannot contract the disease from another person.
Symptoms do not occur until one (1) to three (3) weeks after exposure and are flu-like in humans. However, symptoms can occur up to eight (8) weeks after exposure. Fever, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, are the early symptoms followed by the initial phase of the illness with difficulty breathing due to fluid build-up in the lungs. There is no vaccine or specific treatment.
Precautions should be made to avoid possible contraction of this disease. Areas most commonly prone to infestation are cabins, sheds, barns and other outbuildings but homes and vehicles can become infested as well. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has very detailed instructions on how to proceed with cleaning possibly contaminated areas. The most important steps are to: use rubber, latex or vinyl gloves to protect yourself; make sure the area is well ventilated prior to beginning cleaning; use a properly concentrated bleach solution (one-part bleach to nine-parts water) to soak and disinfect the area; and bag and dispose of all waste properly.
For further information, please check the Washington State Department of Health website: www.doh.wa.gov
Northeast Tri County Health Offices:
Colville – (509) 684-2262
Newport – (509) 447-3131
Republic – (509) 775-3111