Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Winnipeg man dies from rare hantavirus

Source of infection may be home, Lake Winnipeg cabin

  • Print

Provincial health authorities urged Manitobans Friday to take precautions when cleaning mouse droppings as they confirmed a rare death from hantavirus.

A middle-aged Winnipegger died of the viral lung infection last week. It was the first hantavirus fatality in the province since 2000.

Health officials refused to identify him.

Dr. Richard Rusk, a provincial medical officer of health, said officials are not certain whether the man was infected at home or at his cottage. He apparently cleaned up after mice in both places in recent weeks.

The health official refused to identify the cottage community, except to say it was on the east side of Lake Winnipeg. "If you pinpoint a specific community our worry is that you create a lot of panic within that community when this is a very rare occurrence," he said.

In Canada, hantavirus occurs mainly in the four western provinces. There have been about 70 recorded cases of the disease across the nation.

People who contract the infection will suffer severe flu-like symptoms. The symptoms develop within one to six weeks of exposure. Prompt treatment is imperative since the mortality rate is about 50 per cent.

"So, if you're feeling like this is the worst flu and you've had that sort of exposure (to mice droppings), then definitely you don't want to say I'm going to be able to fight this off," Rusk said.

Past surveys in Manitoba have shown about 11 per cent of deer mice have been infected with the virus, a 2006 Manitoba fact sheet says.

Health officials warn people not to vacuum or sweep mouse droppings as that can stir up dust that can be inhaled and attack the lungs. It's better to dampen the droppings with disinfectant and remove them with a damp mop or cloth.

Rusk said the province is setting traps "in the local vicinity" of the Winnipeg man's home and cottage to try to pinpoint the virus.

The latest death is the third recorded in Manitoba from hantavirus. There have been only four lab-confirmed cases of it since record-keeping began in 1999. Deaths occurred in 1999, 2000 and this past week. There was a case in 2007, and that person recovered.

There is no vaccine for hantavirus. If someone becomes ill with the disease, doctors will try to keep the patient's lungs working while antiviral drugs kick in. Patients may end up in intensive care.

There has been no documentation in North America of the virus being spread from person to person, nor is it spread from pets or livestock. However, cats and dogs may bring infected mice into contact with humans.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

How to protect yourself

What is hantavirus? Hantavirus infection is a rare viral disease found in the urine, saliva or droppings of infected deer mice. It attacks people's lungs.

How is it spread? The virus is spread to people when they breathe in air or dust contaminated by deer mouse saliva, urine or feces, or they rub their eyes, mouth or broken skin with infected deer mouse droppings.

What are the symptoms? Symptoms are flu-like and include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, diarrhea, abdominal pain and shortness of breath.

How common is it? There have been four cases and three deaths in Manitoba since 1999.

What precautions can you take?

Avoid disturbing areas of rodent infestation;

Seal homes and cabins so mice can't enter;

Air out enclosed areas or closed-up buildings before entering;

Wear gloves and masks when cleaning nests, droppings and areas that may be contaminated;

Dampen areas contaminated with mouse droppings with bleach disinfectant and remove droppings with a damp mop or cloth;

Wash your hands after cleanup;

Put hay, wood and compost piles as far as possible from homes;

Store pet food and water so mice can't get to them.

For more information, go to: www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/cdc/fs/Hantavirusfs.pdf .

 

-- source: Province of Manitoba

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 27, 2012 A13

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Chief justices breakdown cameras in courtroom project

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A group of Horese pose for the camera in the early evening light at Southcreek Stables in Stl Norbert Wednessday. Sept  14, 2011 (RUTH BONNEVILLE) / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Korea Veterans Association stained glass window at Deer Lodge Centre. Dedication with Minister of Veterans Affairs Dr. Rey Pagtakhan. March 12, 2003.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google