Michigan confirms first case of hantavirus transmitted from rodents

Woman who cleaned a home infested with rodents contracted the potentially deadly respiratory illness
Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 12:29 PM EDT
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WASHTENAW COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - A woman who cleaned a home infested with rodents is Michigan’s first confirmed case of hantavirus.

The serious pulmonary illness has been around the United States, primarily in the Southwest, since 1993. The Washtenaw County woman is the first confirmed case in Michigan, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Hantavirus is transmitted from rodents like mice through urine, droppings or saliva mostly during the spring and summer. Rodent material containing hantavirus dries and the virus become airborne when it gets disturbed, allowing people to inhale it or have it enter a break in the skin.

The resulting respiratory illness is fatal for about 40% of humans who contract it, said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. There are no confirmed cases of hantavirus spreading from person to person in the United States.

Symptoms of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome include fever, chills, body aches, headache, nausea and diarrhea.

Health officials say anyone cleaning areas with evidence of rodent infestation should wear gloves, ventilate the area for 30 minutes before working and wet areas with a disinfectant first.

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