A Michigan woman was hospitalized after contracting a deadly rare virus linked to the excrement of rodents.
Health officials announced the state’s first case of the Sin Nombre hantavirus Monday, The Detroit Free Press reported.
The disease can be transmitted to people that are in close contact with rodent droppings, urine and saliva, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC has only reported 21 cases of the hantavirus in the US from 1993 through 2018, the last year statistics were made available on its website.
The disease kills about 40 percent of people that catch it, and can cause “coughing and shortness of breath, with the sensation of, as one survivor put it, a ‘…tight band around my chest and a pillow over my face’ as the lungs fill with fluid,” according to the government’s website.
More manageable symptoms include fever, chills, body aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, according to the CDC It is rarely passed from person to person, officials said.
The unidentified Michigan patient is thought to have caught the virus while cleaning out a vacant home with signs of an active rodent infestation, health officials reportedly said.
“We believe the individual was exposed when cleaning out the dwelling. Fecal matter … from the infestation likely became airborne during cleaning and was inhaled by the individual,” Washtenaw County Health Department spokeswoman Susan Ringler-Cerniglia told the paper.
“This infection is still considered very rare and can be avoided, even with significant infestations, with precautions when cleaning.”
The patient was reportedly discharged from the hospital after being treated for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
“Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry hantavirus is at risk for HPS and health care providers with a suspect case of hantavirus should contact their local health department to report the case and discuss options for confirmatory testing,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive at the Michigan Department of Health, reportedly said.
The best way to avoid the disease is to take safety precautions when cleaning up after rodent infestations, officials said. “If your pet finds or kills a rodent, neither dogs nor cats can transmit hantavirus to humans, Ringler-Cerniglia reportedly said.
“If that happens, be sure to dispose of the rodent using gloves or a plastic bag and clean any affected area.”
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