First case of Hantavirus this year identified on Navajo Nation

Health News

NAVAJO NATION (KRQE) – The Navajo Department of Health has issued a Health Advisory Notice regarding the Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). This comes as the first case of Hantavirus this year has been confirmed in McKinley County in the Navajo Nation.

The health advisory says that it is unknown at this time where the individual contracted Hantavirus and that the disease can occur in all months of the year however, the largest number of cases have been documented in the spring and summer months. According to the advisory, there is evidence that shows periods of high rain and snowfall are associated with increased cases of Hantavirus.

According to the Navajo Dept. of Health, Hantavirus is a rare but potentially fatal disease that is spread by infected rodent droppings. Hantavirus is spread to people that come in contact with or breathe infected deer mice droppings, urine, or saliva. It is not spread from person to person.

Health officials say it is crucial to take appropriate precautions when entering and cleaning sheds, garages, campers, cabins, barns, and other buildings. The Navajo Dept. of Health reports symptoms of Hantavirus can be similar to COVID-19 or the flu and only a medical and exam and laboratory tests can determine the difference.

There is no vaccine or cure for Hantavirus however, there are steps that can be taken in order to reduce the risk of getting it. Public health officials recommend doing the following to prevent Hantavirus:

  • Clean up for mildly infested areas of rodent activity
  • Open all doors and window for 30 minutes before cleaning
  • Don’t stir up dust by vacuuming, sweeping, or by using other methods of cleaning
  • If rodent droppings or nests are found, spray them with a household disinfectant and let them soak for at least 15 minutes. A disinfectant solution can be made by mixing one cup of bleach with one gallon of water.
  • After disinfecting, wear rubber gloves to clean up droppings with disposable materials like paper towels, rags, or disposable mop heads
  • Seal all materials, droppings, or nests in double plastic bags and throw them away in the trash
  • Prevent rodents from entering the home by sealing all holes and gaps to the outside that are greater than a quarter-inch in diameter
  • Eliminate or reduce rodent shelter around the home by getting rid of outdoor clutter and moving woodpiles, lumber, hay bales, etc.
  • Don’t make food available to rodents. Don’t leave pet food in dishes and dispose of garbage in trash cans with tight-fitting lids

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