First human case of hantavirus reported in Michigan

LANSING, Mich.—The first confirmed human case of Sin Nombre hantavirus has been reported in Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

A woman in Washtenaw County was recently hospitalized with a serious pulmonary illness from Sin Nombre hantavirus, according to the MDHHS.

The woman was likely exposed while cleaning an unoccupied home that had signs of an active rodent infestation, the MDHHS said.

Hantavirus infections are associated with activities that bring humans into contact with infected rodents. Most cases occur in adults and tend to happen in the spring and summer.

Dr. Juan Luis Marquez, the medical director of the Washtenaw County Health Department, recommends using rubber, latex, vinyl or nitrile gloves when cleaning areas with rodent infestations.

“Ventilate areas for at least 30 minutes before working, and make sure to wet areas thoroughly with a disinfectant or chlorine solution before cleaning,” Marquez said.

Hantavirus is responsible for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Symptoms of HPS can be non-specific at first and include fever, chills, body aches, headache and gastro-intestinal signs such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. The illness can progress to include coughing and shortness of breath. HPS has a 40% fatality rate, according to the MDHHS.

“HPS is caused by some strains of hantavirus and is a rare but severe and sometimes fatal respiratory disease that can occur one to five weeks after a person has exposure to fresh urine, droppings or saliva from infected rodents,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry hantavirus is at risk for HPS and healthcare providers with a suspect case of hantavirus should contact their local health department to report the case and discuss options for confirmatory testing.”

For more information about hantavirus, visit the CDC’s website.

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