Washoe County Health District officials say a second Washoe County resident has contracted hantavirus and died. This is the second fatal case of hantavirus since 2017 and highlights the seriousness of this disease.

“Although hantavirus is extremely rare, when it does occur, the disease can be fatal,” said Dr. Randall Todd, Director of the Washoe County Health District Epidemiology and Public Health Preparedness Division. On average, 38% of hantavirus cases are fatal.

Last week, the Washoe County Health District reported that a south Reno resident contracted hantavirus and is being treated.

They said hantavirus is a rare respiratory disease that spreads by breathing in or touching viral particles after exposure to infected rodents, most commonly deer mice.

They said it 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 materials.

Washoe County health officials say hikers and campers may be at higher risk if they're in areas that are common for heavy rodent infestation such as old cabins and barns.

They said symptoms develop anywhere from a few days up to six weeks after exposure. They said initial symptoms include fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, chills and dizziness. Late symptoms develop four to ten days after the first ones and they include shortness of breath and fluid buildup in the lungs.

Washoe County health officials say there is no specific treatment for hantavirus, but anyone with symptoms should seek medical attention immediately. 

They released guidelines for cleaning areas with mouse activity below:

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 more information, visit this link here: https://www.cdc.gov/rodents/cleaning/