LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The first case of the Sin Nombre hantavirus has been detected in Michigan, the The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Washtenaw County Health Department said.
A woman in Washtenaw County was recently hospitalized with a serious pulmonary illness from the hantavirus.
Hantavirus infections are associated with activities that bring humans into contact with infected rodents. Most cases have been identified in adults and tend to occur in the spring and summer.
MDHHS said the person was likely infected while cleaning a residence that had an active rodent infestation.
“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,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “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.”
Hantavirus has a 40 percent fatality rate. Symptoms of hantavirus are typically fever, chills, body aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain and can transition into coughing and shortness of breath.
Hantavirus was first found to be responsible for the hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in sick patients in the southwest part of the United States in 1993 and has since infected people throughout the country.
Humans can get the virus in a number of ways, including inhaling rodent body waste or having it get in the skin.
The highest risk of getting the virus comes from entering or cleaning a rodent-infested area and there are no documented cases of person-to-person transmission of the virus.
Hantaviruses are susceptible to most disinfectants, the MDHHS said.
“We can prevent and reduce the risk of hantavirus infection by taking precautions and being alert to the possibility of it,” says Dr. Juan Luis Marquez, medical director with Washtenaw County Health Department. “Use rubber, latex, vinyl or nitrile gloves when cleaning areas with rodent infestations, ventilate areas for at least 30 minutes before working, and make sure to wet areas thoroughly with a disinfectant or chlorine solution before cleaning.”