THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Texas residents warned of hantavirus

Hantavirus is spread by rodents.

Texas Department of State Health Services officials encouraged the public on Monday to take measures to prevent any further cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), a potentially fatal virus.

HPS is spread by specific rat and mouse species. The rodents spread the virus through their droppings, saliva and urine.

People get HPS when they stir up rodent nests or contaminated dust, and inhale the virus into their lungs. Most HPV cases occur when people work in dusty facilities, such as oilfields and ranches, or clean old buildings where rodents live.

The virus was first discovered in 1993, and Texas has experienced 43 HPS cases since then. Of those cases, 14 resulted in death.

Five HPS cases have been confirmed in Texas this year, including a Golden Crescent resident who was recently diagnosed.

HPS symptoms include fever, fatigue, muscle aches, chills, vomiting, nausea, headaches, abdominal pain and diarrhea. More advanced stages of the virus include shortness of breath and coughing.

Contact your physician if you show any of the above symptoms.

Health professionals recommend several practical solutions to prevent HPS.

It is important to clean up debris, such as trash, brush, woodpiles, etc., that attracts rodents. Also seal any openings that may allow mice or rats into houses or work facilities. Avoid providing potential food sources for rodents, including pet food containers and garbage cans.

If you must handle dead rodents or their nests, wear gloves, goggles and a mask. Also open windows to improve oxygen flow to the area. Clean affected areas with disinfectant or bleach rather than sweeping or vacuuming, which will only stir up the virus cells into your lungs.

Organizations in this story

Texas Department of Health 1100 W 49th St Austin, TX 78756

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