EPHRATA -- Grant County health officials announced Friday that the recent death of a local woman has been confirmed to be from hantavirus exposure.
The woman, who was in her 30s, was hospitalized and died on March 28, a news release said.
County health district investigators determined she likely was exposed to the virus in Grant County.
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is caused by a virus found in the urine, droppings and saliva of infected rodents. Deer mice are the common carriers of the virus in Washington.
People become sick when they breathe in air particles stirred up from rodent droppings or nests. The greatest risk occurs in places like sheds or cabins that are enclosed and have poor air circulation.
Symptoms appear one to six weeks after exposure and include fever, muscle aches and fatigue. Symptoms also can include headaches, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain.
Since the virus was recognized in 1993, Washington has had 44 reported cases and 15 deaths. The state sees about one to five cases per year.
The last death in Grant County was in 2005, the news release said.
"Hantavirus infection is rare but is fatal in about one of every three cases," said Shawta Sackett, Grant County community public health manager and epidemiologist. "We are encouraging residents to take precautions to prevent exposure to this rare but life-threatening illness."
Preventive measures include keeping homes, cabins, garages, sheds, workplaces or campsites clean and free from rodent droppings.
Doors and windows should be left open for at least 30 minutes before cleaning to allow air to circulate in areas where deer mice might live. Gloves and masks should be worn to protect from exposure.
Health officials recommend against using vacuums, brooms, dusters or cleaning implements that might stir up dust, and instead suggest wetting possibly contaminated areas with disinfectant or bleach solution, and letting soak for at least 10 minutes before cleaning.
Dead rodents, nesting materials and feces should be sprayed with disinfectant until soaked and then double-bagged along with cleaning materials.
Gloves should be disinfected before removal, and hands should be thoroughly washed.
For more information, go to www.cdc.gov/hantavirus.
* Michelle Dupler: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org