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Emergency Preparedness

Posted on: August 28, 2023

Public Health Investigating Local Hantavirus Case

Public Health – Seattle & King County is investigating a case of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) in an Issaquah teenager. The person was hospitalized in early August and is now recovering. The patient reported being exposed to a mouse infestation at his house in Issaquah and also bitten by a rodent in the woods in a residential area in Issaquah.

Since 1997, there have been six people diagnosed with HPS who were most likely infected in King County. Prior to the current case, the most recent King County case was in December 2021.

Deer Mice Spread Hantavirus

In Washington, the only rodents that spread hantavirus are deer mice. They have distinctive white underbellies and white sides. Deer mice can nest in homes, garages, outbuildings, sheds, cabins, barns, other structures, and cars, and have been reported most typically in wooded rural and suburban settings. A home or building does not need to be old or dilapidated to have nesting rodents.

Means of Infection

People typically get infected with hantavirus by breathing in dust containing the virus from rodent droppings, urine, saliva or nesting materials. 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. Hantavirus is not spread person-to-person.

The chance of being exposed to hantavirus is greatest when people are in closed spaces where rodents are actively living. Take steps to prevent rodent infestations even if you do not see evidence of rodents.

Learn More

For more information and safety tips, visit Public Health - Seattle & King County's recent notice on hantavirus.

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