Hantavirus case reported in south Reno

Published: Aug. 15, 2019 at 5:45 PM PDT
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A south Reno resident contracted hantavirus, a sometimes deadly disease typically spread by deer mice, the Washoe District Health Department reported Thursday. It’s the first Washoe County case since two were reported in 2017.

The condition of the person was not reported.

The disease is spread by inhaling or touching particles with the virus.

“This typically occurs when working or recreating in areas where mouse droppings, urine, or saliva may have collected or when cleaning up rodent droppings or nesting material,” the health department said in a statement. “Hikers and campers may be at higher risk if they are in areas that are common for heavy rodent infestation such as old cabins and barns.”

“Be mindful when cleaning your garage or shed,” Health Officer Kevin Dick said in a statement. “Look for rodent infestation and follow specific guidelines when cleaning areas with rodent activity.”

Symptoms develop anywhere from a few days up to six weeks after exposure. Symptoms can include fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, chills, and dizziness. The symptoms that develop later include shortness of breath and fluid buildup in the lungs.

There is no specific treatment for hantavirus, the health department said. However, anyone with these symptoms after coming in contact with deer mice or their waste should seek medical attention immediately. If infected individuals are recognized early and receive medical care, in an intensive care unit, their outcomes may improve.

Listed below are guidelines to follow when cleaning in areas with mouse activity:

  • Do not sweep or vacuum the area with urine, droppings, or nesting material.
  • A solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water should be used when cleaning urine and/or droppings. Let it set for 5 minutes before cleaning the area.
  • Wear gloves (i.e., latex, vinyl, rubber) and a face mask to avoid touching or breathing in viral particles.
  • Identify areas where mice are getting in and set traps.
  • Identify and plug openings that may allow rodents entry.  A deer mouse can fit through an opening the size of a nickel.  Plug holes using steel wool and put caulk around the steel wool to keep in in place.

For additional information on how to safely clean up after rodents, visit