Sunday, July 21, 2024

Grant County resident dies of Hantavirus

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GRANT COUNTY — A Grant County resident in their 20s has died from hantavirus, marking the first reported case of the illness in Washington state this year, health officials said Wednesday.

The Grant County Health District said the individual had a known exposure to rodents before falling ill, likely inside a vehicle. This is the sixth hantavirus case in the county over the past 20 years. Washington's last confirmed case occurred in 2019.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of one of our community members due to hantavirus," said Dr. Alexander Brzezny, Grant County health officer, in a statement. "Our heartfelt condolences go out to the loved ones of this individual."

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a rare but potentially deadly illness caused by a virus found in the urine, droppings and saliva of infected rodents, particularly deer mice in Washington state. People can become infected by breathing contaminated dust, especially in enclosed areas with rodent infestations and poor ventilation.

Symptoms usually appear one to six weeks after exposure and can include fever, muscle aches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea and abdominal pain. Coughing, shortness of breath and fluid in the lungs can occur in later stages. More than one-third of cases are fatal.

Health officials advise thoroughly wetting and disinfecting any rodent droppings, nests or dead rodents with bleach solution while wearing gloves and a mask. Rodent control and sealing entry points are the best prevention measures. Anyone exposed to rodents who develops symptoms should promptly seek medical attention.

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