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State reports second hantavirus case in a week

 


HELENA - A man released from a Dillon hospital earlier this week has tested positive for hantavirus but is expected to recover fully, state health officials said Friday.

It is the second reported hantavirus case in a week in Montana.

Department of Public Health and Human Services spokesman Ken Pekoc said the man, identified only as a Dillon resident in his 60s, was admitted to the hospital on Saturday and stayed for five days before being released.

Early Friday, state health officials at the department's public health lab in Helena confirmed doctors' suspicions that the man had hantavirus, Pekoc said.

A 26-year-old Cascade County woman who died at a Great Falls hospital last Thursday was the fourth Montana fatality from the disease, which is carried and spread by wild rodents. Since it was first diagnosed in the state in September 1993, there have been 19 confirmed cases.

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a severe respiratory infection spread by rodent urine, feces or saliva. People typically become sick about two weeks after breathing virus particles stirred up in a rodent-infested space, such as when sweeping a mouse nest out of a barn or cabin.

Pekoc said the Dillon man apparently contracted the virus after coming into contact with mice in his home.

The flu-like symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, chills, muscle and body aches, cough, nausea, headache, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

No cure for the disease has been developed. It is not considered contagious from person to person, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pekoc said health officials have advised people with symptoms that include shortness of breath to see a doctor and indicate whether they have been exposed to rodents recently.

Montanans also should make sure their homes are free from mice and other rodents that can carry the virus, Pekoc said.

Through the first week of May, the CDC had reported a total of 336 cases of hantavirus in the United States. Thirty-eight percent of all reported cases have resulted in death, according to the agency.

Cases have been reported in 31 states, including most of the western half of the country and some eastern states as well. On the Net:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services:

http://www.dphhs.state.mt.us/

 

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