RENO, Nev., (KOLO) Washoe County has reported its second hantavirus case this year. This one was fatal.
Little is known about this latest victim. He died elsewhere, but he was a resident of our area, apparently south Reno and he got the disease, as victims do, by inhaling dust containing the virus which is present in the droppings, urine and saliva of the cuter, but more dangerous cousin of the common house mouse, the deer mouse.
"He had been involved in things like cleaning out a garage," says epidemiologist Dr. Randall Todd of the Washoe County Health District, "and there had been a history of mouse droppings in the garage."
The disease itself, Todd says, is a serious health risk.
"It carries a case fatality rate of about 38 percent. So, it's not a disease you want to get."
Cleaning a garage or outbuilding is something any of us might do on a weekend and mice of course, can also invite themselves inside the home.
But, if there's any sign of a mouse infestation, special care should be taken. Since the virus is spread by inhaling, the idea is to use a wet cleaning approach. That may mean a trip to the store to pick up a simple mask, gloves, bleach and a spray bottle.
"Soak the area. Spray it down with a bleach solution. Let it sit for about five minutes, then clean it up."
While you're at it you might want to pick up a rodent trap or two...or adopt a cat and eliminate the danger at the source.
Be sure to those instructions and take it all seriously because this is a very serious illness."
"In fact," says Dr.Todd. "the fatal case's wife just spoke with us today and said, please, please tell people about these precautions because we didn't know to take some of these precautions."