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Published On: Thu, Jun 12th, 2014

Hantavirus death reported in North Dakota

The North Dakota Department of Health announced today that a resident of central North Dakota has died recently from complications of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), a rare disease spread by infected rodent droppings, urine and saliva. The individual, an adult with no underlying medical conditions, died while hospitalized.

hantavirus, Peromyscus maniculatus

Peromyscus maniculatus Image/CDC

While officials could not determine the exact activity that led to this individual’s infection, the individual did have potential exposure to rodents before becoming ill. 

“This unfortunate death is a reminder for people to be mindful of the presence or evidence of wild rodents when conducting clean-up or other activities in a house, barn or other buildings, especially in rural areas,” said Michelle Feist, Epidemiology and Surveillance Program Manager. “It is important to avoid actions that raise dust, such sweeping or vacuuming, if signs of rodents are present.”

Hantavirus is a life-threatening disease spread to humans by rodents that has symptoms similar to influenza.

Hantavirus is carried by rodents, especially deer mice. The virus is found in their urine and feces, but it does not make the animal sick.

It is believed that humans can get sick with this virus if they come in contact with contaminated dust from mice nests or droppings. You may come in contact with the dust when cleaning homes, sheds, or other enclosed areas that have been empty for a long time.

Hantavirus does not spread between humans. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) divides the symptoms of hantavirus between “early” and “late” symptoms.

Early symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups—thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders. These symptoms are universal.

There may also be headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. About half of all HPS patients experience these symptoms.

Four to 10 days after the initial phase of illness, the late symptoms of HPS appear. These include coughing and shortness of breath, with the sensation of, as one survivor put it, a “…tight band around my chest and a pillow over my face” as the lungs fill with fluid.

HPS has a mortality rate of 36% according to the agency. Looking for a job in health care? Check here to see what’s available

The last reported case of Hantavirus in North Dakota occurred in 2009. Including this recent case, only twelve cases of HPS have been reported to the department of health since 1993, when the virus was first recognized in the United States. Seven of the twelve North Dakota cases were fatal. Nationally, through April 21, 2014, 639 cases of Hantavirus have been reported in 34 states, in mainly rural areas.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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