TEXAS COUNTY, Okla. - A Texas County adult is dead and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) confirms the cause as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).
This is the only case of HPS reported in 2014 for the state of Oklahoma. The Sooner state has only experienced five total accounts of this disease, all in the northwestern region, since it was nationally recognized in 1993.
The rare illness is carried by wild rodents, particularly deer mice found in the southwestern United States. Investigators say exposure to HPS in these cases most likely occurred when dust was stirred up in rat infested areas.
The OSDH encourages residents to be aware of their exposure to wild rodents while cleaning in a house, barn or other out buildings, specifically in rural areas.
Signs of HPS are not shown in the rodents, however, the virus is contained in their urine, feces, and saliva. One might obtain HPS in an environment in which the disease is airborne.
When acquired, the disease will show itself through symptoms which include fever, chills, headache, cough, and body aches. These will usually appear two weeks after exposure, but as the sickness develops liquid fills the lungs, complicating breathing.
Individuals who experience these symptoms should contact a physician immediately.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) assures that "the types of Hantavirus that causes HPS in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another."
For more information and tips on how to safely clean areas with possible rodent infection, visit: http://www.health.ok.gov .