Earlier this week, Michigan health officials reported the state’s first confirmed case of Sin Nombre hantavirus, a disease spread by rodents but not between individuals.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced that an adult woman in the Washtenaw district was recently hospitalized with severe lung disease from the Sin Nombre hantavirus. The person was likely exposed while cleaning an unoccupied apartment that showed signs of active rodent infestation, MDHHS said.
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The hantavirus was first discovered in 1993 in the southwestern United States as responsible for hantavirus lung syndrome (HPS) in sick patients. Since then, HPS has infected people in the United States and America. Hantavirus infections are associated with domestic, professional, or recreational activities that involve people coming into contact with infected rodents. Most of the cases have been identified in adults and usually appear in spring and summer.
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“HPS is caused by some strains of hantavirus and is a rare but serious and sometimes fatal respiratory disease that can occur one to five weeks after a person has been exposed to fresh urine, feces or saliva from infected rodents,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy for Health at MDHHS. “Anyone exposed to hantavirus-infected rodents is at risk for HPS, and healthcare providers with a suspected hantavirus case should contact their local health department to report the case and discuss options for confirmatory testing.”
Humans become infected when freshly dried materials that are contaminated with rodent excretions are disturbed and inhaled, cracks in the skin or mucous membrane or ingesting contaminated food or water. Rodent bites can also transmit hantaviruses. The highest risk of exposure is when entering or cleaning structures that have been infected by rodents. There are no documented cases of human-to-human hantavirus transmission in the United States
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Symptoms of HPS may initially be non-specific and include fever, chills, body aches, headache, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. The disease can progress to coughing and shortness of breath. HPS has a 40% death rate.
“We can prevent and reduce the risk of hantavirus infection by taking precautions and being aware of the possibility of it,” says Dr. Juan Luis Marquez, medical director for the Washtenaw County Health Department. “Use rubber, latex, vinyl, or nitrile gloves when cleaning rodent-infested areas, ventilate the areas for at least 30 minutes before working, and make sure to thoroughly disinfect or disinfect the areas before cleaning.” Wet the chlorine solution. “
Hantavirus cycle. (NSF)
Hantaviruses are a family of viruses that are mainly spread by wild rodents and are found around the world. Several hantaviruses have been identified in the United States that can infect humans, and each hantavirus has a primary rodent host. The main hantavirus in the United States that causes HPS is Sin Nombre virus, which is spread by the deer mouse and white-footed mouse.
The greatest risk of hantavirus infection is opening or cleaning closed rodent-infested buildings without adequate protection. Healthcare providers with a suspected hantavirus should contact their local health department to report the case and discuss options for confirmatory testing.
Hantaviruses are viruses and are susceptible to most disinfectants (dilute chlorine solutions, detergents, general household disinfectants including those based on phenols, quaternary ammonium compounds, and hypochlorite). Depending on environmental conditions, these viruses are likely to survive for less than a week indoors and much shorter periods of time (hours) when exposed to sunlight outdoors. Special precautions should be taken when cleaning up after rodents. If the rodent infestation is severe, it is recommended to consult a pest controller.
COVID-19 vs. Hantavirus Lung Syndrome (CDC)
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