Deceased North Lake Tahoe man tests positive for hantavirus

Increased Exposure

Activities that increase the risk of exposure to hantavirus include:

Opening and cleaning a previously unused building, especially in rural settings.

House cleaning, if there is a rodent infestation, especially by sweeping or dry mopping. (Signs of infestation may include droppings, gnaw marks, nests, noises and more.)

Construction, utility and pest control workers can be exposed when they work in crawl spaces, under houses or in vacant buildings.

Campers and hikers can be exposed when they use infested trail shelters or camp in rodent habitat.

Minimize exposure

To minimize the risk of hantavirus infection, follow these simple measures:

Avoid contact with all wild rodents, their droppings and nesting materials.

Before entering an enclosed area that may be infested with rodents, allow it to air out for at least 30 minutes.

Do not dry sweep or vacuum areas that rodents have potentially contaminated.

Surfaces that rodents may have contaminated with urine or droppings should be made wet with a 10 percent bleach solution or a commercial disinfectant following label directions before mopping up.

Promptly dispose of all cleaning materials when done, and thoroughly wash hands and clothes.

Examine the outside of all buildings and seal any holes or other areas that would let rodents get inside.

Store all food items securely in rodent-proof containers.

Information was provided by Placer County Public Health.

A recently deceased Lake Tahoe man has tested positive for hantavirus.

Placer County health officials made the announcement Wednesday, stating that the man — who was not identified — likely contracted the virus from rodents in the home where he worked and lived.

Officials do not believe the public is at ongoing risk from the source of infection associated with the man’s death.

“We are very sorry to announce that hantavirus was involved in this tragic death of one of our community members,” Placer County Health Officer Dr. Rob Oldham said in a press release. “This unfortunate loss reminds us that hantavirus is very dangerous. But the silver lining is that hantavirus infections are quite rare and can be prevented. It appears that the source associated with this fatal infection has been cleaned.”

Hantavirus can be carried by rodents, which shed the virus in their urine, droppings and saliva, according to officials. Infection occurs when an individual breathes air contaminated with the virus. This is most common when someone stirs up rodent droppings or nesting material while cleaning a contaminated room such as a shed or a cabin.

The virus is not transmitted person to person.

Symptoms of hantavirus infection typically appear within two to four weeks after an exposure, but can appear as early as one week or as late as eight weeks after infection.

Initial symptoms resemble the flu: fever, headache and abdominal, back and joint pain, according to health officials. Nausea and vomiting can occur. The main symptom is difficulty breathing, which is caused by fluid building up in the lungs.

People should seek medical help if symptoms appear after direct or indirect exposure to rodents, especially if they experience difficulty breathing.

Visit for more information on hantavirus, including videos on how to trap and clean up rodents.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.