Officials from the Saskatoon Health Region have confirmed a case of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) within the Region. This current case is the third one reported in Saskatchewan since June, according to a Saskatoon Health Region news release Aug. 16.
The health region says the patient is under medical care. The previous two cases were fatal.
According to PubMed Health, Hantavirus is a life-threatening disease spread to humans by rodents that has symptoms similar to influenza.
Hantavirus is carried by rodents, especially deer mice. The virus is found in their urine and feces, but it does not make the animal sick.
It is believed that humans can get sick with this virus if they come in contact with contaminated dust from mice nests or droppings. You may come in contact with the dust when cleaning homes, sheds, or other enclosed areas that have been empty for a long time.
Hantavirus does not spread between humans.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) divides the symptoms of hantavirus between “early” and “late” symptoms.
Early symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups—thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders. These symptoms are universal.
There may also be headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. About half of all HPS patients experience these symptoms.
Four to 10 days after the initial phase of illness, the late symptoms of HPS appear. These include 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.
HPS has a mortality rate of 38% according to the agency.
The Saskatoon Health Region recommends the following to reduce exposure to hantavirus:
Prevent deer mice or rodent infestations
- Block openings that might allow rodents to enter a building
- Store human and animal food, water and garbage in containers with tightly-fitted lids
- Keep yards clean, and store woodpiles above the ground and away from the home
Be aware of animal droppings and nesting materials when cleaning a home or community building
- Take appropriate precautions to avoid exposure
- For large infestations, contact a professional exterminator
Properly clean contaminated areas
- Ventilate the building by opening doors and windows for at least 30 minutes before cleaning
- Prior to cleaning, protect yourself by wearing a HEPA filtered respirator, gloves and goggles
- Dampen areas contaminated with rodent droppings with bleach solution or a disinfectant and remove droppings with a damp mop or cloth to reduce the chance of the virus becoming airborne.
- Avoid using dry cleaning methods such as dusting, sweeping, vacuuming or air-hosing.
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