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Published On: Wed, Apr 24th, 2013

Oklahoma: Texas County resident first hantavirus death in 12 years

Oklahoma health officials are reporting that a Texas County resident has died from hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, or hantavirus, the first such occurrence in the state in a dozen years, according to a Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) press release yesterday.

Deer Mouse Image/CDC

Deer Mouse
Image/CDC

In Oklahoma, hantavirus has only been confirmed three times since the virus was first recognized in the U.S. in 1993.

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

Rodents, especially deer mice, carry Hantavirus. 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.

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, andabdominal 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 38% according to the agency.

The OSDH stresses caution during spring cleanup activities.

The key to preventing hantavirus is to avoid contact with rodents or rodent waste. To clean up areas contaminated with rodent waste, follow these steps.

  • Ventilate areas inside closed buildings at least 30 minutes.
  • Use rubber gloves and spray the nest, dead rodents, or droppings until soaked with a household disinfectant solution of 1½ cups of bleach in 1 gallon of water.
  • Remove the nest or rodent(s) using a long-handled shovel or rubber gloves.
  • Double-bag and dispose in trash.  Persons in rural areas may bury the waste 2 to 3 feet deep.
  • Spray the area again with the disinfectant solution.
  • Using rubber gloves, wipe up the area with paper towels or rags and double-bag and dispose them in trash container.
  • Wash hands with soap and water immediately after the cleanup.

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

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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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  1. Fresno County woman succumbs to hantavirus, health officials say it was contracted out-of-state - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] deaths have also been reported from Montana, Arizona and Oklahoma this […]

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