King County Teen Hospitalized Due to Hantavirus Exposure

A severe and uncommon illness known as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) can be caused by Hantavirus, primarily transmitted by deer mice in Washington state.

Recently, a teenager from King County was diagnosed and treated after potential exposure to Hantavirus. The individual, hospitalized in the initial weeks of August, revealed encounters with a mouse infestation in their Issaquah residence.

The teen also mentioned an incident where they were bitten by a rodent in the forested residential zones of Issaquah, Washington. Fortunately, the patient is now on the path to recovery.

History of Hantavirus in King County

From 1997 until today, King County has seen six cases of HPS stemming from potential local infections. The last case was identified in December 2021, before this recent one. Despite its rarity, residents should know about hantavirus risks and understand the signs and safe measures to address rodent infestations. The key preventive measure is limiting rodent exposure, especially to deer mice and their habitats.

A deer mouse is the natural reservoir for Hantavirus in Washington state.

Identifying the Hantavirus Carriers

In Washington state, only deer mice are identified as carriers of the Hantavirus. These mice are known to establish nests in various structures, from homes to barns and even in vehicles. Their presence is not restricted to older or worn-down buildings. An infected deer mouse will not exhibit any illness symptoms, making them stealthy carriers. It’s essential to know that deer mice have a distinct appearance: they are generally smaller with large ears, a combination of brown or gray fur on their top side and white fur on the underside, and a two-toned tail.

Understanding Hantavirus Transmission

The typical transmission mode for Hantavirus is inhalation of contaminated dust from rodent excretions, including droppings, urine, and saliva. Activities like sweeping or vacuuming areas with rodents can disperse this contaminated dust. Less commonly, individuals might contract the virus after touching their face following contact with contaminated materials or via a bite from an infected rodent. Notably, there is no human-to-human transmission of this virus.

Several activities might increase the risk of exposure, including:

  • Cleaning or using buildings that have been closed or undisturbed for extended periods.
  • Engaging in housekeeping in homes with rodent presence.
  • Occupations like construction, utility services, and pest control, especially in areas prone to rodent infestation.
  • Recreational activities like camping in infested areas.
  • Interacting with vehicles that house rodents.

The likelihood of exposure is heightened in enclosed spaces with active rodent colonies. Proactive steps against rodent infestations are crucial, even without apparent signs of their presence.

Signs of Infection and Preventive Measures

After exposure, hantavirus symptoms might manifest between 1 to 8 weeks, commencing with flu-like indicators such as fever, muscle pain, and nausea, eventually escalating to respiratory issues like coughing and breathlessness. Although HPS has a high mortality rate, early supportive care can be beneficial.

If you suspect exposure and exhibit symptoms, it’s paramount to consult a physician and mention potential rodent encounters. To fend off Hantavirus, maintain rodent-free environments by eliminating their food, water, and nesting sources. When facing an infestation, follow recommended safety protocols during cleanup. For extensive guidance, refer to the following:

For rodent vehicle issues, be vigilant for signs like foul smells, damaged wires, and visible nests. Follow specified procedures for cleaning vehicles after rodent exposure.

Comments are closed.

Discover more from Living Snoqualmie

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading