County reports hantavirus case
An El Dorado County woman has contracted hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a disease spread by rodents, health officials reported Thursday.
The woman lives outside the Lake Tahoe basin. El Dorado County departments of public health and environmental management wish to remind residents to take precautions when entering cabins, sheds, trailers or other buildings that may be infested with rodents.
Public health officials are investigating how the woman was exposed to the disease. She became ill in June and was hospitalized and has since recovered. Laboratory tests confirmed that the woman was positive for the hantavirus.
The most common way people get hantavirus is by inhaling small particles of mouse urine or droppings that have been stirred up into the air. Symptoms begin with fever, muscle aches, headache and an upset stomach, followed by the abrupt onset of respiratory distress. The illness can then progress rapidly to severe respiratory failure, shock and, in some cases, death. Prompt diagnosis and medical treatment increase an individual’s chances for recovery. Treatment of hantavirus depends on the severity of an individual’s symptoms.
This is the first known case of hantavirus in El Dorado County, however cases have been identified in some of the surrounding counties in the past. Since the virus was first identified in 1993, there have been 48 cases in California and 465 cases nationally, according to the California Department of Public Health. About a third of the cases identified in California have been fatal. In 2006, four cases of the virus were identified in California, three of which were fatal. This past week, health officials announced the first confirmed case of hantavirus in the state for 2007. The case was identified in Mono County.