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Confirmed Case of Hantavirus found in Washtenaw County

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Susan Ringler-Cerniglia for the information in this story.)

A confirmed case of Sin Nombre hantavirus infection was recently detected in Washtenaw County.

Hantavirus infection is very rare but severe disease is transmitted through infected rodents. It is most commonly caused by exposure to urine or droppings but also from rodent bites. Exposure is most likely through inhaling contaminated particles while cleaning or working in an infested area such as a house, barn or shed. The hantaviruses that cause human illness in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another.

Given the normal range of the species of rodents that carry Sin Nombre hantavirus, there is a small chance that Washtenaw County residents may encounter a rodent that carries this virus. You can prevent exposure to hantavirus and other diseases by taking steps to keep mice and rats out of your home and properly cleaning rodent urine, dropping and nesting materials (including using disinfectant) if you see rodents or evidence of rodents around your home.

Things such as seeing a rodent while out for a walk or a hike pose no risk to you. Similarly, if your pet finds or kills a rodent, neither dogs nor cats can transmit hantavirus to humans. If that happens, be sure to dispose of the rodent using gloves or a plastic bag and clean any affected area.

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