Garfield hantavirus victim ‘recovering nicely’

A Garfield County victim of hantavirus is “stable and recovering nicely,” county public health director Yvonne Long says.

The incident is serving as a reminder to take precautions against the mouse-transmitted disease, especially as people take on spring-cleaning and home-improvement projects.

Such a task is thought to have led to the exposure in this year’s Garfield case.

“I believe they were looking to move out of a property and they were cleaning it and you can be exposed during that time of moving and cleaning,” Long said.

Hantavirus is found in deer mice saliva, urine and droppings, and can become airborne and be breathed in by people if contaminated dirt and dust are stirred up, according to a news release from the county.

Long said it’s important when working in areas of potential exposure to wear gloves and a mask, and when cleaning up mouse droppings to first spray them with a mix of bleach and water and let them soak.

“Just use those precautions and you’re going to cut your risk down tremendously,” she said.

For patient privacy reasons, officials aren’t saying anything about the gender or age of the Garfield County victim or what town the person lives in.

Garfield also had a hantavirus case in 2012, and that victim survived. However, more than a third of all victims die from the disease.

There is no vaccine, cure or specific treatment for hantavirus, but those who seek prompt medical treatment have a better chance of recovery, the Garfield health department says.

It says early symptoms include muscle aches, fatigue, high fever, dizziness, headaches, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Later symptoms include coughing and difficulty breathing.

However, sinus congestion, sneezing, a runny nose and a cough that produces phlegm aren’t hantavirus-related.


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