Hantavirus case puts local health officials on alert

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GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. (KJCT) -- Garfield County health officials are on alert after they found one person suffering from exposure to Hantavirus.

It’s a serious lung infection that is caused by humans coming in contact with the saliva, urine and droppings of rodents like deer mice.

Garfield County Public Health is investigating the case to determine where in the county the exposure occurred.

Now, Mesa County Public Health Officials are warning local residents on how to avoid exposure.

Symptoms include a fever, dizziness and pain in the hips and back. Those usually show up in about 10 days after the exposure.

The Centers for Disease Control report that the mortality rate for the virus is nearly 40 percent.

Thomas Orr, a spokesperson for Mesa County Public Health said blowing out rodent droppings from a workshop can lead to exposure if someone breathes in the air.

"If you are sticking your head in a cabinet and wiping it out you can get exposed by breathing in the virus,” Orr said.

Mesa County Public Health officials said to do the following to avoid exposure:

-If you find mouse droppings, it’s important to eliminate the rodents first by trapping them.

-Keep food, even pet food, and other things that attract rodents off the ground.

-Keep rodents out of your home or building by sealing cracks in buildings then to dispose of droppings.

-Don't sweep, vacuum or use a blower to clean the area around rodent droppings, because inhaling the dust could give you the virus.

-Air our buildings, then dampen the area with a disinfectant like bleach, before wiping.

There were three cases of Hantavirus in Mesa County and five in Garfield County in 2016.

Colorado had the second most reported cases in the nation last year -- at 94 cases -- just behind New Mexico.

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