Health & Medicine

Hantavirus linked to death of Placer County man

UCSF doctor talks about contracting, surviving hantavirus

In this Aug. 30, 2012, video interview, Dr. Charles Chiu, who directs the University of California, San Francisco-Abbott Viral Diagnostics and Discovery Center, discusses hantavirus, a potentially fatal virus transmitted by rodents such as deer mi
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In this Aug. 30, 2012, video interview, Dr. Charles Chiu, who directs the University of California, San Francisco-Abbott Viral Diagnostics and Discovery Center, discusses hantavirus, a potentially fatal virus transmitted by rodents such as deer mi

A Placer County man who died recently tested positive for hantavirus, a potentially deadly airborne virus found in rodent droppings, Placer County health officials announced Wednesday.

The man lived and worked in the Lake Tahoe region, and county officials said they believe he caught the virus at his home.

Deer mice host hantavirus, and people contract it when fresh droppings, urine, saliva or nesting matter are disturbed, causing them to breathe in infectious materials. No cases of the virus being transmitted from person to person have ever been recorded in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in Atlanta.

The man sought treatment at a Placer County hospital, who then reported the case to the county health department.

Symptoms typically manifest within one to four weeks and include fatigue, fever and muscle aches. The virus can become fatal if it progresses to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, in which the lungs fill with fluid.

The illness has a 38 percent mortality rate, according to the CDC.

Placer county health officials said the man's home and source of the most recent infection has been cleaned.

This is the first hantavirus-related death in Placer County this year. There were no deaths connected to the virus in 2017.

Molly Sullivan: 916-321-1176, @SullivanMollyM

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