A Highly Contagious Virus Was Found In Michigan

Matt Lillywhite

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) investigated the first verified human case of Sin Nombre Hantavirus in the state. The mortality rate is approximately 36%.

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According to local health officials, the woman was exposed while cleaning a vacant home with indications of an active rat infestation. Quoting Susan Ringle Cerniglia, a spokeswoman for the Washtenaw County health department: "We believe the individual was exposed when cleaning out the dwelling. Fecal matter from the infestation likely became airborne during cleaning and was inhaled by the individual."

The CDC says that "each hantavirus serotype has a specific rodent host species and is spread to people via an aerosolized virus that is shed in urine, feces, and saliva, and less frequently by a bite from an infected host. The most important Hantavirus in the United States that can cause HPS is the Sin Nombre virus, spread by the deer mouse."

Also, information published by the University of Michigan Health Department says that "HPS requires treatment in a hospital right away, even if the case is mild. You will get treatment to support you through the illness, such as intravenous (IV) fluids and medicines. You may need a ventilator to help you breathe."

The early symptoms of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome are very similar to the flu and include fatigue, fever, and muscle aches. But if the disease gets worse, symptoms can also include vomiting, diarrhea, and dizziness. It's worth noting that a percentage of infected individuals may get a hemorrhagic fever and kidney failure, which may require dialysis. Plus, as the lungs fill with fluid, coughing and shortness of breath can occur later in the disease. So as you can imagine, it can be pretty serious.

According to the CDC, hantaviruses have a significant death rate, with around 36% of patients dying from Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. This is because most people do not catch the infection early enough to cure it. So, it's advisable keeping away from locations where rodents leave droppings or wearing rubber gloves and a mask that covers your nose and face when exposed to mouse droppings to decrease your risk of catching Hantavirus (or any other disease).

Are you concerned about emerging diseases in the United States? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. And if you think more people should read this article, share it on social media.

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