Michigan's first case of hantavirus in humans detected in Washtenaw Co.

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Michigan's first case of Sin Nombre hantavirus in a human has been found in Washtenaw County, officials said Monday.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Washtenaw County Health Department are investigating the case, which involves a woman from the county.

Hantavirus is a virus spread through direct or indirect contact with the saliva or waste of rodents, usually deer mice, carrying it. There are no documented cases in the United States of the virus being transmitted from person to person, according to experts.

A deer mouse is released from a trap at the Adirondack Ecological Center in Newcomb, N.Y., Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2007.

The virus causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. People who are have the syndrome can exhibit symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, headache, cough, abnormally low blood pressure, shock and respiratory failure. The disease has a 40% fatality rate.

Officials said the Washtenaw County woman who was infected was likely exposed when cleaning an unoccupied dwelling that contained signs of an active rodent infestation.

"HPS is caused by some strains of hantavirus and is a rare but severe and sometimes fatal respiratory disease that can occur one to five weeks after a person has exposure to fresh urine, droppings or saliva from infected rodents," Michigan Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said in a statement.

Anyone who comes into contact with rodents carrying hantavirus is at risk for HPS, Khaldun said, warning that health care providers should report a suspected case of hantavirus to their local health department and discuss options for confirmatory testing.


Twitter: @CharlesERamirez