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Health officials and laboratory results have confirmed that an Eagle County resident has died from Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) following exposure to hantavirus. The victim was an adult male. The last hantavirus case in Eagle County was in 2005.
The recent hantavirus victim was identified Tuesday by Eagle County coroner Kara Bettis as 41-year-old Manuel Hernandez, an Eagle County resident for the past two months.
Hantavirus is carried by deer mice that are common to rural areas throughout Colorado. Infection can occur if mouse urine and droppings that contain hantavirus are stirred up into the air and inhaled; or if people touch urine, droppings or nesting materials that contain the virus then touch their eyes, nose or mouth; or through a bite. The virus does not spread from person to person.
Hantavirus causes death in approximately 40 percent of cases. Symptoms begin from one to six weeks after exposure and include high fever, severe body aches, headache and vomiting. Initially, there are no respiratory symptoms. Because no effective treatment exists for hantavirus, prevention is the key to avoiding infection.
As spring and summer months are typically when Colorado sees the most human cases of hantavirus, residents are warned to take precautions if they see mouse droppings or other signs of mice:
For additional information on hantavirus, including how to protect yourself, how to properly clean rodent-infested areas, and how to rodent-proof your home, visit www.cdc.gov/hantavirus.