July 6, 2007
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is recommending precautions after two Texas residents developed hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, or HPS, this year.
One person, a Jefferson County resident, died. The other person, a Crosby County resident, recovered.
Hantavirus is carried by certain species of rats and mice. The illness is rare. Infected rodents shed the virus in their urine, droppings and saliva. The virus can be transmitted to people when infected rat or mouse urine, saliva, droppings or nesting materials are stirred up, temporarily aerosolizing the virus, which can be breathed in by humans.
DSHS recommends the following precautions.
- Seal openings that may allow rats and mice to enter homes and workplaces.
- Remove brush, woodpiles, trash and other items that may attract rats and mice.
- Tightly close garbage cans, pet food containers and other food sources.
- Wear protective gloves to handle dead mice and rats or to clean up nesting areas, urine or droppings.
- Before cleaning up nests or droppings found inside, open windows and doors to ventilate the area for at least 30 minutes.
- Do not stir up nests by sweeping or vacuuming. Dampen areas before cleanup.
- Use a disinfectant or 1-to-10 bleach-water mixture to clean up dead rodents, nests, urine and droppings.
Early symptoms of hantavirus infection include fatigue, fever and muscle aches. These symptoms may be accompanied by headaches, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Later symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath. If hantavirus is suspected, people should contact their health care provider immediately.
A total of 34 HPS cases have been confirmed in Texas since 1993, the first year it was reported. Two cases were reported in the state last year.
(News Media: for more information, contact Carrie Williams, Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7400.)