FLAGSTAFF – Coconino County Public Health Services District (CCPHSD) officials have announced a confirmed case of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) in a recent traveler to the County from outside Arizona. The individual traveled to multiple areas in northern Arizona and it is unknown where the current case contracted the virus.
The disease is transmitted to people who come into contact or breathe infected urine, droppings and/or saliva of wild mice (primarily deer mice). People who come into contact with rodents that carry hantavirus are at risk of contracting the disease. The illness has not been found to spread from person to person.
HPS is not limited to one geographic location. It can be present in many areas in the southwestern region of the United States where there is rodent activity, even if mice are never seen.
This is the first confirmed HPS case in Coconino County this year and the sixth case of HPS in Coconino County since 2007. Two cases resulted in death from complications caused by the illness. Symptoms of the illness could include fever, headache and muscle aches progressing rapidly to severe difficulty in breathing. Individuals experiencing these symptoms should see their physician immediately and mention their potential rodent exposure.
To prevent HPS, public health officials recommend the following clean-up methods for areas that may have rodent activity:
- Prior to starting cleanup, open all door and windows, especially in areas that have been closed for an extended period such as a garage, storage shed or second homes that are not used year-round. Leave open for 30 minutes before cleaning and if possible, allow direct sunlight on the area.
- Do not stir up dust in the infested area by vacuuming, sweeping, or any other means. This will allow virus particles to go into the air, where they can be breathed in, and potentially causing infection.
- When rodent droppings or nests are found in and around the home, spray them liberally with a household disinfectant (such as one-part bleach to nine parts water) and allow them to soak for at least 15 minutes. Any rodent droppings and rodent nests should be sprayed with a pesticide to kill fleas before disinfecting or disposing the carcasses.
- After disinfecting, wear rubber gloves and clean up the droppings with disposable materials such as paper towels, rags or disposable mop heads.
- Seal all materials, droppings or nests in double plastic bags and dispose of them in the trash.
Rodent-proof your home:
- Prevent rodents from entering the home by plugging or sealing all holes and gaps to the outside greater than 1/4-inch in diameter. Use steel wool, thick wire screen, metal flashing or cement to seal holes.
- Eliminate or reduce rodent shelter around the home by removing outdoor junk and clutter, and by moving woodpiles, lumber, hay bales etc., as far away from the house as possible.
- Do not make food easily available to rodents. Do not leave pet food in dishes and dispose of garbage in trash cans with tight-fitting lids.
- Prevent mice infestation inside your home with the use of traps and proper removal.
For more information regarding HPS, call the Coconino County Public Health Services District at 928-679-8750, toll-free at 877-679-7272 or visit www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/hps.