SALT LAKE (ABC 4 News) – Utah public officials said two people died last month as a result of the Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), a rare, but deadly lung disease.
The deaths occurred in Millard County and in Salt Lake County. According to a spokesperson from the Utah Department of Health, each person was a healthy adult ranging in age from 20 to 65.
HPS is spread by breathing in dust around rodent-infested areas that contain hantavirus. Rodent urine and droppings can contain the virus and when airborne, a person can inhale it. The virus then attacks your lungs.
If you breathe in contaminated air it could take two to five weeks before you notice symptoms similar to the common cold. They include: fever, chills, nausea, vomiting and deep muscle aches. Then the virus progresses to the respiratory illness. The earlier the physician can catch it, the better.
Activities that can put people at risk include:
- Improperly cleaning up mouse and rat urine, droppings and nests
- Cleaning a shed or cabin that has been closed for some time
- Working in areas where mice and rats may live (such as barns)
To safely clean up rodent urine and droppings, wear a mask, glasses, and rubber or plastic gloves. Get the urine and droppings very wet with disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water. Allow to soak for five minutes. Use paper towels to wipe up urine or droppings and throw the towel in the trash. Mop the area with disinfectant or a bleach solution.
When finished, wash gloved hands with soap and water or spray a disinfectant or bleach solution on the gloves before taking them off. Wash hands with soap and warm water after removing the gloves.
The recommended cleaning solution is a mixture of 1 ½ cups of household bleach and one gallon of water. A smaller amount can be made with one part bleach and 10 parts water.