How common is hantavirus?

Published On: Sep 10 2012 06:32:24 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 10 2012 06:35:52 PM CDT

Sept. 10, 2012: Health officials thought a woman in The Woodlands had Hantavirus, but she didn't. Doctors say it's a pretty rare virus. Andy Cerota reports.

HOUSTON -

Health officials thought a woman in The Woodlands had the first Hantavirus case in Texas since 2010, but it turned she didn't.

The woman had been cleaning a house for the television program "Hoarding: Buried Alive" when she became ill.

Dr. Tom Ksiazek with the University of Texas Medical Branch said Hantavirus is rare. The state department of health says 34 cases have been reported in Texas since 1994.

"Although the disease is not that common it is a bad disease it you get it," said Ksiazek. "Certain types of care tend to minimize how severe it becomes."

But, around the country, the virus has recently been deadly.

At Yosemite National Park, three people died and another five were infected. Park rangers believe rodents inside tent housing are to blame.

The symptoms of Hantavirus are like West Nile virus and mimic the flu.

"You shouldn't panic," United States Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin said. "These illnesses and disease that you are seeing have been in the population all the time. It is that you are starting to see some of them identified. We want you to know what the threats are what things are out there."

Hantavirus is carried by rodents. The rodents shed the virus in their urine, droppings and saliva. People catch it by breathing in contaminated air.  It's not contagious from person to person, but it's extremely dangerous. The mortality rate is 35 percent.

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