Health officials have confirmed a second case of Hantavirus in the Eastern Sierra this summer. The first case turned up in Mammoth Lakes. Now, the second case has surfaced in Inyo County.
Public Health Officer Dr. Rick Johnson announced that a Bishop resident was hospitalized with a laboratory confirmed case of hantavirus at last week’s end. Dr. Johnson said the patient suffered from a flu-like illness and pneumonia for about four days before going to Northern Inyo Hospital last Thursday. Medical authorities quickly flew the individual to Reno for further care.
Marvin Moskowitz, Inyo Environmental Health Director, said his department would take the lead role in the investigation into the exposure and source of the infection.
Dr. Johnson did say that the earlier Mammoth Lakes case came from a closet where hoses and garden equipment were stored. The closet had been locked up for six months, according to Dr. Johnson. The doctor also said that the Mammoth resident with hantavirus is recuperating. No actual influenza cases have surfaced in recent weeks, so anyone with flu-like symptoms should consider hantavirus.
Dr. Johnson reminds that rodents, particularly deer mice, carry the virus that causes Hantavirus. This typically spreads to humans when infectious material from rodents is inhaled. Hantaviruses can live in the environment for two to three days at normal room temperature. The UV rays of sunlight will kill the virus. The virus can not be transmitted from one person to another nor from animals or rodents purchased at a pet store.
Health officials encourage rodent control in and around the home. Before cleaning a suspected area, ventilate it for at least 30 minutes. Wear rubber or latex gloves when cleaning rodent droppings and use a mixture of bleach and water. Call your health department for more information.