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First Hantavirus Case in Michigan

Michigan has confirmed its first case of human Sin Nombre hantavirus, the state’s health department said Monday. A woman in Washtenaw County was hospitalized with a serious pulmonary illness from hantavirus.According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the woman was exposed when cleaning an unoccupied dwelling that contained signs of an active rodent infestation. Hantavirus infections, associated with contact with infected rodents, have caused hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in the United States since 1993.

According to the health department, most cases of HPS are identified in adults, in the spring and summer.Dr Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS said that HPS is caused by some strains of hantavirus and is a rare but severe and sometimes fatal respiratory disease that can occur one to five weeks after a person has exposure to fresh urine, droppings or saliva from infected rodents.

Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry hantavirus is at risk for HPS and healthcare providers with a suspect case of hantavirus should contact their local health department to report the case and discuss options for confirmatory testing. Symptoms of HPS, which has a 40% fatality rate, at first can include fever, chills, body aches, headache and gastro-intestinal signs including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Symptoms can progress to coughing and shortness of breath.

Dr Juan Luis Marquez, medical director with Washtenaw County Health Department said that they can prevent and reduce the risk of hantavirus infection by taking precautions and being alert to the possibility of it. Use rubber, latex, vinyl or nitrile gloves when cleaning areas with rodent infestations, ventilate areas for at least 30 minutes before work and make sure to wet areas thoroughly with a disinfectant or chlorine solution before cleaning.

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