AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– A woman from Adams County has died of hantavirus. It is the first fatal case of hantavirus in Colorado this year.

The 36-year-old woman had no serious underlying health conditions when she was admitted to University of Colorado Hospital on July 8. She was suffering from influenza-like symptoms.

She rapidly developed respiratory distress and died two days later despite aggressive treatment.

Tri-County Health Department has conducted an investigation and determined that the patient was most likely exposed to hantavirus while cleaning a rodent-infested area of her home.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is a very rare condition, caused by a virus that is carried by rodents, especially deer mice. People catch hantavirus by inhaling dust that contains airborne particles from the feces, urine or saliva of deer mice. It is fatal to humans in almost half the cases.

“This contaminated dust may be found in a closed space such as a garage, cabin, barn, shed or other mouse-infested area,” according to Dr. Richard L. Vogt, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department. “There is no person-to-person transmission and family pets or livestock are not carriers of the virus.”

Initial symptoms usually appear about 2-3 weeks after exposure and include fever, chills, headache and severe muscle pain, especially in the lower back and legs. One to five days later, symptoms include a dry cough or difficulty breathing, and can lead to respiratory failure. Medical attention should be sought immediately.

“Hantavirus is extremely rare, but it presents an opportunity to review specific cleanup and rodent proofing procedures,” Vogt added.


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