California

Health Officials: Lake Tahoe-area man dies after contracting hantavirus

PLACER COUNTY (CNN) - Placer County health officials report that a person living near Lake Tahoe died after contracting hantavirus.

The Placer County resident died recently and tested positive for the virus, which is carried by rodents, health officials announced Wednesday.

"The particular exposure source for this individual who passed away has been cleaned and taken care of,” Placer County Health Officer Dr. Rob Oldham said. “So, there is no ongoing or elevated risk to the public in the Lake Tahoe area.”The resident likely contracted the virus from rodents in a home in the Lake Tahoe region, according to officials.

Hantavirus can be carried by rodents through their urine, droppings and saliva. People can become infected when they breathe air contaminated with the virus.

This mostly happens when someone stirs up rodent droppings or nesting material while cleaning a contaminated room, officials said.

Oldham said if you notice a rodent problem and find droppings or a nest, before you clean up the droppings, wet them with a 10 percent bleach solution. Then, using rubber gloves and a mask, clean up the area. The key is make sure the particles don't become airborne.

The virus is not transmitted person to person.

"This unfortunate loss reminds us that hantavirus is very dangerous," Oldham said. "But, the silver lining is that hantavirus infections are quite rare and can be prevented.”
Symptoms of hantavirus typically show up two to four weeks after the exposure, but can appear as early as a week after or as late as eight weeks after.

The beginning symptoms appear the like flu, and include fever, headache and abdominal, back and joint pain. The main symptom is difficulty breathing, which is caused by fluid building up in the lungs.

 

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