Man in Lake Tahoe Dies of Hantavirus: Officials

By Jack Phillips

A man in Lake Tahoe, California, is believed to have died of Hantavirus, according to reports.

The Sacramento Bee reported that the man, who lived and worked in the Lake Tahoe region, may have caught the virus at home. The potentially deadly airborne virus is found in rodent droppings.

Placer County health officials told The Associated Press in a statement that they believe that rodents at the home where the resident lived and worked were the likely source of hantavirus.

Some rodents might carry hantavirus and spread it via their urine, droppings, and saliva.

“The particular exposure source for this individual who passed away has been cleaned and taken care of,” Placer County Health Officer Dr. Rob Oldham told KCRA. “So, there is no ongoing or elevated risk to the public in the Lake Tahoe area.”

Officials said that people can contract the virus when they breathe air contaminated with it. It mainly happens with someone stirs the nesting material or droppings while cleaning a room, officials said. They added that if you see a rodent problem or finding droppings, they should first be hit with a 10 percent bleach solution. They recommend people exercise caution when cleaning up the area, using rubber gloves and a mask.

“This unfortunate loss reminds us that hantavirus is very dangerous,” Oldham told the station. “But, the silver lining is that hantavirus infections are quite rare and can be prevented.”

According to AP, the public is not at risk from the source tied to the resident’s death.

The illness has a 36 percent fatality rate, says the CDC on its website.

The deer mouse, cotton rat, rice rat, and white-footed mouse carry the virus.

The most recent major event in the history of hantaviruses was the discovery of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in the southwestern United States in 1993, that was caused by the hantavirus strain Sin Nombre.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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