Officials warn about hantavirus after death

The Daily Times staff
Navajo Nation

FARMINGTON – Navajo Nation public health officials have confirmed one person from the Western Agency has died from hantavirus hulmonary syndrome.

The person was a resident of Coconino County in Arizona, according to Del Yazzie, epidemiologist with the Navajo Epidemiology Center.

The death was the first confirmed hantavirus death this year on the Navajo Nation, according to a press release from the tribe.

Officials are reminding people to use caution and preventive methods to eliminate the potential for hantavirus infections.

Hantavirus can be transmitted to humans who come into contact with or breathe in urine, droppings or nesting materials of mice or rats that have the virus.

In a notice issued this week, public health officials reminded people to use caution when entering and clearing structures such as sheds, garages, campers, cabins or barns.

Officials recommend wearing a respirator mask before conducting clean-up activities and leaving all doors and windows open for 30 minutes before cleaning.

Do not stir up dust by vacuuming, sweeping or any similar actions.

If rodent droppings or nests are found in or around the home, spray them with household disinfectant then allow to soak for at least 15 minutes.

Any rodent droppings or nests should be sprayed with a pesticide to kill fleas before disinfecting or disposing of carcasses.

After disinfecting, wear rubber gloves and clean up droppings with disposable materials such as paper towels or rags.

Seal all materials, droppings or nests in double plastic bags and dispose of in the trash.

Officials also recommend proofing homes against rodents by plugging or sealing holes and gaps. Do not make food easily available to rodents.

Another method is removing outdoor junk and moving items such as woodpiles, lumber or hay bales away from the home. Those areas could provide nesting sites for rodents.