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Hantavirus Confirmed in Washoe County
Take precautions while cleaning areas with possible rodent activity.

Media Release
For Immediate Release
www.washoecounty.us/health

Contact: Laura Rogers
lrogers@washoecounty.us
775-328-2415

Reno, Nev. August 15, 2019 – The Washoe County Health District confirms a south Reno resident has contracted hantavirus. This is the first case of hantavirus in Washoe County since two cases were reported in 2017.

Hantavirus is a rare respiratory disease that can cause illness in humans. The disease is spread by breathing in or touching viral particles after exposure to infected rodents, most commonly deer mice. This typically occurs when working or recreating in areas where mouse droppings, urine, or saliva may have collected or when cleaning up rodent droppings or nesting material. Hikers and campers may be at higher risk if they are in areas that are common for heavy rodent infestation such as old cabins and barns.

Hantavirus symptoms develop anywhere from a few days up to 6 weeks after exposure. Initial symptoms can include fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, chills, and dizziness. Late symptoms develop 4 to 10 days after initial symptoms and include shortness of breath and fluid buildup in the lungs. 

There is no specific treatment for hantavirus. However, anyone with these symptoms after coming in contact with deer mice or their waste should seek medical attention immediately. If infected individuals are recognized early and receive medical care, in an intensive care unit, their outcomes may improve.  

“Be mindful when cleaning your garage or shed. Look for rodent infestation and follow specific guidelines when cleaning areas with rodent activity,” said Washoe County District Health Officer, Kevin Dick.

Listed below are guidelines to follow when cleaning in areas with mouse activity:

  • Do not sweep or vacuum the area with urine, droppings, or nesting material.
  • A solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water should be used when cleaning urine and/or droppings. Let it set for 5 minutes before cleaning the area.
  • Wear gloves (i.e., latex, vinyl, rubber) and a face mask to avoid touching or breathing in viral particles.
  • Identify areas where mice are getting in and set traps.
  • Identify and plug openings that may allow rodents entry.  A deer mouse can fit through an opening the size of a nickel.  Plug holes using steel wool and put caulk around the steel wool to keep in in place.

For additional information on how to safely clean up after rodents, visit https://www.cdc.gov/rodents/cleaning/

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Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »