For the second time since the city started tracking the disease in 1993, a Denver resident has been diagnosed with the hantavirus.
The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment publicly announced the diagnosis on Tuesday. Health officials characterize hantavirus as a rare but serious respiratory disease carried by infected deer mice.
No evidence of rodents were found when the health department inspected the victim’s apartment building, and there's also no concern the mouse that carries the hantavirus is nesting in the Denver area.
The hantavirus is not found in common house mice, but it is found in deer mice, which are usually found in rural or suburban areas. These are recognizable by their white ears and undersides.
Humans become infected with the hantavirus when they breathe in the virus while stirring up dust from mouse nests or mouse droppings.
This infection usually occurs during the spring or summer, and symptoms appear a couple weeks later.
Those potentially fatal symptoms include fever, chills, headaches and severe pain in the legs and back.
It’s not quite clear how the person infected with hantavirus got it in the first place, but health officials believe it happened in the city of Denver. That person is "fine and recovering," according to the health department.
According to documents from the health department's investigation, city officials searched the infected person's apartment building for mouse droppings and urine, but to no avail.
The property owner did have to place a notice inside the building telling residents that another tenant had been infected.
Where this building is was redacted in the documents obtained by 9NEWS.
Here are some tips for avoiding the hantavirus from the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment:
- Keep mice and other rodents away from the living areas of your home.
- Spray dust, dirt and rodent droppings, and dead rodents with a mixture of bleach and water (1 ½ cups of household bleach to one gallon of water) or other disinfectant. Allow the mixture to sit wet for at least 10 minutes before cleaning.
- Wear rubber, latex or vinyl gloves and a dust mask when cleaning rodent affected areas. Wash hands with soap and warm water after cleaning areas affected by rodents.
- Never vacuum or sweep areas where there is evidence of rodent infestation. Clean up debris while it is wet.
- Remove wood, junk and brush piles near your home. Keep vegetation around the house well-trimmed.
- Store human food, pet food and bird seed in covered containers.
- Keep garbage in tightly covered cans.
- Repair window screens and ensure weather-stripping is tight under all doors.