PHOENIX — Coconino County health officials are actively collecting and testing mice in the Flagstaff area in an attempt to figure where a local woman came into contact with infected rodent droppings or urine.
The woman died recently from complications of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).
“We just don’t know,” said Marlene Gaither of the Coconino County Environmental Health Division.
Health officials say the incubation period is one to six weeks for HPS, which means researchers are working backwards to find the infected rodents. They are checking “all the activities that she did, places she would have hung out, places she might have cleaned,” Gaither said.
The illness starts with fever, headache and muscle aches, and progresses rapidly to severe difficulty in breathing and, in some cases, death.
“The last reported case in Coconino County was 2007 and the individual ultimately recovered. Including this case, there have been 22 confirmed Hantavirus cases in Arizona since 2006, 11 of which have resulted in death” said Gaither.
“The cases we’ve had have been everywhere,” she added. “It’s not just in Coconino County, it’s not just in the mountains. We’ve had cases in the desert.”
To prevent HPS, the Coconino County Public Health Services District recommends the following:
Proper clean-up methods for areas that may have rodent activity:
Open all door and windows; leave them open for 30 minutes before cleaning.
Do not stir up dust by vacuuming, sweeping or any other means.
When rodent droppings or nests are found in and around the home, spray them liberally with a household disinfectant and allow them to soak for at least 15 minutes. Any rodent droppings and rodent nests should be sprayed with a pesticide to kill fleas before disinfecting or disposing of the carcasses.
After disinfecting, wear rubber gloves and clean up the droppings with disposable materials such as paper towels, rags or disposable mop heads.
Seal all materials, droppings or nests in double plastic bags and dispose of them in the trash.
Rodent-proof your home:
Prevent rodents from entering the home by plugging or sealing all holes and gaps to the outside greater than 1/4-inch in diameter. Use steel wool, thick wire screen, metal flashing or cement to seal holes.
Eliminate or reduce rodent shelter around the home by removing outdoor junk and clutter, and by moving woodpiles, lumber, hay bales, etc., as far away from the house as possible.
Do not make food easily available to rodents. Do not leave pet food in dishes. Dispose of garbage in trash cans with tight-fitting lids.
Certain forms of outdoor recreation, such as camping and hiking, can pose a risk for Hantavirus exposure. A few precautions should be taken, including:
Campers should not pitch tents or place sleeping bags in close proximity to rodent nests, burrows or in areas of heavy rodent activity.
Before use, properly clean tents and other camping gear that have been stored where rodents may have had access.
If possible, do not sleep on the bare ground and zip tents closed to keep animals out.
Use only bottled water or water that has been disinfected by filtration, boiling, chlorination or iodination for drinking, cooking, washing dishes and brushing teeth.
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Water tips to save money, help save the Earth
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon
- What you need to know about Alzheimer's disease in Arizona
- Spring clean your windows like a pro with these 8 tips
- 7 films that should have won best-picture Oscars
- New plumbing technology saves money and improves your home
- Survey shows Arizona CFOs optimistic about 2016
- How chronic pain can affect your love life
- 5 potential warning signs about your child's development