During the last several months, two people in King County have become ill with Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), including one Issaquah man who died.
Hantavirus can cause a rare but deadly disease called HPS. In Washington state, hantavirus is carried primarily by deer mice.
A person gets HPS by breathing in hantavirus. This can happen when dust from dried rodent urine, saliva, and droppings that contain hantavirus are stirred up in the air. People can also get infected by touching rodent urine, droppings, or nesting materials that contain the virus, and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. It’s also possible to get HPS from a rodent bite. The disease does not spread person-to-person.
The Issaquah man who died was in his 30s. He went to the emergency room on Feb. 23, and died on Feb. 24. Tests that Public Health received on March 1 revealed he had hantavirus. The other person who was diagnosed with hantavirus lives in Redmond, and has recovered.
“While it’s a concern that there are two locally-acquired cases relatively closely together, at this point, we do not know whether this indicates a general increase in risk for our area,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Either way, these cases serve as an important reminder to be aware of the risk of hantavirus, know the symptoms of hantavirus, and how to clean up rodent infestations.”
For more information and safety tips, see a blog post from Public Health - Seattle & King County.