The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), in the United States, announced on June 7 that it detected the first case of hantavirus in the state.
The hantavirus is a family of viruses that is transmitted through rodents infected.
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In a statement from the Department it was announced that, in recent days, a woman was hospitalized for a serious lung condition caused by this virus.
The patient may have been exposed to the disease while cleaning an unoccupied dwelling with an active rodent infestation.
Hantavirus is responsible for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), whose first human case was detected in 1993, in the southwestern United States. Since then it has infected people in other regions of that North American country and, in general, the population of the entire continent.
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“HPS is caused by some strains of hantavirus and is a rare but serious, sometimes fatal respiratory disease that can occur one to five weeks after a person is exposed to fresh urine, droppings, or saliva from infected rodents.”explained the doctor Joneigh Khaldun, executive medical director at MDHHS.
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Humans can get this disease when they handle or inhale materials contaminated by excrement of rodents. They can become infected through wounds to the skin, mucous membranes, or when eating food or contaminated water.
At the moment, no person-to-person transmission of the virus has been detected in the United States.
What are the symptoms?
Although in principle there are no specific symptoms of the disease, in general infected people suffer fever, chills, body aches, headache and gastrointestinal signs such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
HPS can progress causing coughing and shortness of breath. It has a rate of 40% mortality.
In that sense, if a person suspects that they have the disease, they should immediately approach a health center, report the case and discuss the options to confirm that it is hantavirus.
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How to prevent it?
The doctor Juan Luis Marquez, Medical Director of the Washtenaw County Health Department in Michigan, recommended using “Rubber, latex, vinyl or nitrile gloves when cleaning areas with rodent infestations.”
In addition, it is important “Ventilate the place for at least 30 minutes before working and be sure to thoroughly wet the areas with a disinfectant or bleach solution before cleaning.”
Hantaviruses are susceptible to most disinfectants: dilute chlorine solutions, detergents, general-purpose household disinfectants, including those based on phenols, quaternary ammonium compounds, and hypochlorite.
Depending on environmental conditions, these viruses probably survive less than a week indoors. When exposed to sunlight or outdoors, they survive much shorter periods – just a few hours.
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