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Garfield County resident exposed to hantavirus at home, recovering

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Garfield County Public Health
195 West 14th Street, Rifle, CO | 2014 Blake Avenue, Glenwood Springs, CO

PRESS RELEASE
June 3, 2015

Garfield County resident exposed to hantavirus at home, recovering

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO - The western Garfield County resident exposed to hantavirus, a serious disease caused by exposure to deer mice, is at home and recovering. On Monday, representatives from the Garfield County Public Health Department conducted a site visit to investigate areas of potential hantavirus exposure that may have contributed to the recent hospitalization.

"We are relieved and happy to report that the person in Garfield County is working towards recovery," said Sara Brainard, Garfield County Public Health nurse manager. "There were a few areas of potential exposure. We go out on site visits to ascertain the risk for any further exposure and to talk with property managers about ways to reduce rodent populations in those areas. We also review how to approach further clean up if it is needed."

Hantavirus, though rare, can be extremely dangerous. Colorado is the second highest in the nation in cases of the disease. Already this year, there have been three additional cases of hantavirus reported in Colorado. All three cases resulted in fatalities. The mortality rate for this illness is nearly 40 percent nationwide.

"There were no underlying health conditions in any of the people infected in Colorado this year. It goes to show you how serious this disease can be," said Brainard. Garfield County Public Health credits prompt medical treatment for saving the life of the Garfield County resident. "The patient reported rodent activity in the environment and medical providers recognized hantavirus and got the patient appropriate care immediately."

The general population may have a low-risk of coming into contact with hantavirus, but when someone does, it can have very serious consequences. "When I talk to people about cleaning up after mice, I talk to them about using caution everywhere in the space. Use extra caution when opening up closets or pulling boxes and other items off of shelves. These items may have contaminated dust in or around them as well," said Brainard.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is caused when a person breathes in dust that contains particles of rodent urine and droppings. It takes an average of two to four weeks for symptoms of hantavirus to appear. Early 'flu-like' symptoms include fever, fatigue, and muscle aches in the large muscle groups. If you have had exposure to mice and have symptoms of illness, seek medical attention and tell your doctor you have been exposed to rodents. There is no specific treatment for hantavirus, but individuals who receive early treatment may have a better chance of recovery.

If you see signs of mice, avoid vacuuming and sweeping, or doing anything that stirs up dust. Instead, ventilate the area, and always wet surfaces down with a bleach water solution. Keep the area wet for five minutes before beginning clean up. Wipe up and discard all contaminated material.

According to Brainard, "It needs to become normal practice to use these precautions. We know taking the extra time to prepare the surface for proper cleaning takes longer, but the consequences of exposure can be devastating."

For more hantavirus information, contact Garfield County Public Health at 970-625-5200 or 970-945-6614.

 

PRESS RELEASE
May 21, 2015

Hantavirus case prompts precautionary message

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO - Garfield County Public Health officials are working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to investigate a recent case of hantavirus exposure in the western part of Garfield County. Last year, a Silt resident also contracted hantavirus, and the disease has a high mortality rate nationally.

"Every year we see cases of hantavirus in Colorado. Our state is second highest in the nation in cases of the disease," said Yvonne Long, Public Health Director. "If you have mice in or around your home, barns, or cabins you are at risk for exposure to hantavirus. That is why we are urging people to exercise extreme caution when they enter or clean up an area with evidence of rodents," said Long.

Hantavirus is carried in the saliva, urine and droppings of certain infected mice that are found in the western and central parts of the United States. When contaminated dirt and dust are stirred up, the virus becomes airborne. Most people become infected by breathing in the particles, but it can also be transmitted through the bite of an infected mouse.

"This is the first case of hantavirus in Garfield County reported this year," said Long. "There is close to a 40 percent mortality rate associated with the virus. In the case we had last year, thankfully the person who was exposed successfully recovered. Hantavirus is extremely serious and with its high mortality rate, we urge people to take serious precautions."

It takes an average of two to four weeks for symptoms of hantavirus to appear. Early symptoms include fatigue, fever, and muscle aches in the large muscle groups. Additional symptoms may include headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems. Within one to five days after early symptoms begin, late symptoms consistent with respiratory distress begin. These include cough and difficulty breathing.

There is no specific treatment, cure, or vaccine for hantavirus infection. However, individuals who recognize the symptoms and seek prompt medical treatment may have a better chance of recovery.

To avoid exposure, do not sweep or vacuum areas where rodents have been present. Instead wear protective gloves and wet down the areas with a bleach and water solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. Keep the area wet for five minutes before beginning clean up. Wipe up and dispose of all contaminated material. When disposing of dead rodents, always use gloves and place rodents in sealed plastic bags before placing in the trash.

Homes can be rodent-proofed by eliminating food sources and removing abandoned vehicles, brush, wood and junk piles where rodents may hide. Plug holes and other mouse entryways. Use traps, poisons, or if necessary hire a professional exterminator. Keep indoor areas clean and store food in rodent-proof containers; this includes pet, and livestock food. Store firewood at least 100 feet from the house and keep vegetation around the house well trimmed.

For more hantavirus information, contact Garfield County Public Health at 970-625-5200 or 970-945-6614.

 

Media contact:
Carrie Godes
Special Projects Coordinator
Garfield County Public Health 2
2 014 Blake Ave. Glenwood Springs, 81601
www.garfield-county.com
Email
970-625-5200 x 8122 (office)
970-319-3430 (cell)


 

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Garfield County Administration
108 8th Street, Suite 101
Glenwood Springs, CO  81601

970-945-5004 | phone
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