PA Health Department Confirms Hantavirus Case
To: MEDICAL EDITORS
Contact: Dan Miller of Pennsylvania Department of Health, +1-717- 787-1783
HARRISBURG, Pa., July 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed a diagnosis of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome in a 40-year-old man who worked at a Boy Scout camp in Clearfield County. The man was seriously ill but he has recovered and has been discharged from the hospital.
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome causes a person’s lungs to fill with fluid, making it difficult to breathe. It is caused by a virus carried by the deer mouse and other types of wild rodents found, primarily, in rural areas. People are infected by inhaling airborne particles of the virus and by direct contact with rodents’ urine, droppings or nests. There are no documented cases of person-to- person transmission of the virus in the United States.
Initial symptoms include high fever, severe body aches, headache and vomiting beginning one to six weeks after exposure. Serious respiratory symptoms will usually develop one to five days after the initial symptoms appear. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact a physician and discuss any possible exposure to rodent- infested environments. Although there is no specific treatment, early diagnosis is important for recovery.
Working in cooperation with the Department of Health, the camp has taken recommended actions, such as cleaning rodent droppings in buildings, trapping and poison baiting to reduce rodent populations, and sealing openings that can allow rodents to enter structures. Because the camp took immediate steps to avoid further exposures, it was allowed to remain open for normal activities.
Hantavirus infections in the U.S. were first reported in the “Four Corners” region in 1993 and most cases still occur in western states. Human infection is very rare in the eastern U.S. In the past decade, only three previous cases were diagnosed in Pennsylvania residents: in 1997 in Lehigh County after likely exposure in Potter County; in 1998 in Monroe County; and in 1999 in Washington County after likely exposure in Clearfield County.
The best way to prevent Hantavirus infection is to avoid contact with rodents, their urine and droppings. Individuals living in or visiting rural areas should be extra cautious, especially in and around cabins, sheds, barns and woodpiles where mice nest.
Additional precautions to protect against Hantavirus include:
— Seal cracks, plug holes and eliminate other possible entryways for
— In rural areas, conduct year-round rodent control or hire an
— Keep indoor areas, especially kitchen and food storage areas, clean.
— Store food in rodent-proof containers. This includes pet, livestock
and bird food.
— Properly dispose of garbage in sealed containers away from buildings.
— Store firewood away from the structure.
— Keep plants and grasses around structures short and well trimmed.
— Before cleaning a cabin, shed or barn, open the doors and windows for
30 to 60 minutes to provide good ventilation. Wear gloves and use a
mixture of bleach and water to spray down mouse infested areas to
avoid stirring up dust.
— Avoid disturbing or sleeping near rodent urine and droppings when
camping, hunting or fishing.
For more information about Hantavirus, contact your local health department or call the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Division of Communicable Disease Epidemiology at 717-787-3350.
CONTACT: Dan Miller
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health
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