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First case of hantavirus in 2017 reported in northern Arizona

(Flickr/jans canon)

PHOENIX — A potentially fatal virus has been reported in northern Arizona for the first time this year, officials with Coconino County said on Friday.

According to Randy Phillips, the division manager with the Coconino County Public Health Services, an unidentified man has been recently diagnosed with hantavirus in northern Arizona.

The man is recovering, Phillips said, and officials hope he will not suffer any ill effects as a result.

Phillips said it was the the first confirmed case of hantavirus in 2017 and sixth in the county since 2007. Overall, he said that there have been less than 100 cases in the state in the last two decades.

Hantavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was an infection that can progress to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, which can be fatal.

Phillips said the virus is often spread through contact with rodents and their feces. He said it was unknown how the man contracted the virus, but added that he was a frequent traveler in northern Arizona.

Hantavirus can be spread by an individual coming in contact with rodents, inhaling the virus and becoming ill.

Symptoms associated with the virus are generally respiratory, Phillips said, with victims experiencing trouble breathing shortly after the actual exposure.

There is a high fatality rate associated with hantavirus, Phillips said, but added that administering care shortly after symptoms begin appearing can save a person’s life.

Phillips said the virus survives more easily in northern Arizona due to the temperatures and elevation. Travelers can help combat the disease by being aware of their surroundings and cleaning the area if they notice rodents.

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