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Published On: Thu, May 22nd, 2014

Texas County adult dies from hantavirus, first case in Oklahoma in 2014

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) announced today that a Texas County adult has died due to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). 

Deer Mouse Image/CDC

Deer Mouse
Image/CDC

This is the first case confirmed in Oklahoma during 2014, and the fifth Oklahoma case since hantavirus was first recognized in the United States in 1993. During 2013, two cases of HPS occurred in Oklahoma; both individuals died as a result of this disease.   All Oklahoma cases have been from northwestern Oklahoma. Investigations of each HPS case revealed exposure likely occurred when dust was stirred up in rodent-infested areas while cleaning. 

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 38% according to the agency. 

The OSDH urges residents to be mindful of the presence or evidence of wild rodents when conducting clean-up activities in a house, barn or other out buildings, especially in rural areas. Infected rodents do not show signs of illness but shed the virus in their urine, feces, and saliva.  

The OSDH recommends the following steps to safely clean up areas with possible rodent infestations or waste: 

  • Ventilate areas inside of closed buildings for at least 30 minutes before you clean by opening doors and windows.
  • Use rubber gloves and spray the rodent 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 the nest 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.
  • Wear rubber gloves and wipe up the area with paper towels or rags and double-bag and dispose them in trash container.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after the cleanup.

 

 

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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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