The man was a resident of Duchesne County, between the ages of 19-29 years. The otherwise healthy man became ill and went to the hospital on September 2, 2008. He died the next day.
It is suspected that this individual was exposed to hantavirus while cleaning up rodent droppings. Hantavirus is shed in the urine and fecal droppings of rodents (typically deer mice). Humans can become infected by inhaling dust that contains dried contaminated rodent urine or feces.
Prior to this case, the last confirmed hantavirus infection in Utah occurred in Monticello in 2004. The Monticello man, who recovered fully, was also exposed to the virus while cleaning up rodent droppings
From 2000 - 2007, there were a total of 13 confirmed hantavirus cases in Utah, two of which were fatal.
While hantavirus infections in Utah are rare, they still do occur and are very serious. Because of this, it is important that people take precautions to protect themselves against becoming infected with hantavirus.
Southeastern Utah District Health Department (SEUDHD) wants to remind people the best way to prevent hantavirus is to eliminate or minimize contact with rodents or their droppings. The following tips will help eliminate or minimize risk of exposure:
• Remove brush, grass and garbage from around building foundations to get rid of commonly used nesting materials.
• Keep tight-fitting lids on garbage cans.
• Store all food (including pet food) in rodent-proof containers.
• Do not leave open bowls of pet food outside. Properly dispose of uneaten pet food.
• Clean up rodent droppings using a wet method such as spraying disinfectant (diluted bleach) prior to cleaning, then use a wet mop or towel to moistened with disinfectant to clean.
• Don’t clean up rodent droppings using a dry method such as sweeping and vacuuming.
• Wear gloves, a dust mask, long-sleeved clothing and protective eyewear while cleaning up or in areas where there are rodent droppings.
Initial symptoms of hantavirus include fever, fatigue, and muscle aches, especially in large muscle groups. Gastrointestinal symptoms, as well as dizziness, may also occur. As the disease progresses, symptoms can include cough and shortness of breath.
If you may have been exposed to rodent droppings and experience similar symptoms, it is important to seek medical care as soon as possible.
Call your local health department at (435) 678-2723 or (435) 587-2021 for information.