Friday, August 8, 2014

Hantavirus in North Dakota

Earlier this summer, it was reported by the North Dakota State Health Department that a case of Hantavirus Pulmonary Disease resulted in the death of an infected adult.
Hantavirus disease transmission cycle
It is the first case of the disease since 2009 and only 12 cases have been reported to the state health department since 1993. There have been seven total recorded deaths in North Dakota including the most current this year.

If you have questions, use the comments section below!

I am honestly surprised that the number of reported cases and mortality is as low as it is in the state of ND and the rest of the upper Midwest. When Hantavirus was first reported, I thought it would have a much larger impact on the state. 

ND is an extremely rural, large farming industry state, with a relatively large percentage of older farmers. The deer mouse is extremely prevalent in the state and I contacted them numerous times growing up on a farm when I was young. 

Another aspect is exposure; activities such as shoveling and sweeping grain bins, train cars, storage sheds, barns, etc. are all extremely common.

I think it is important to remember that the best way to avoid exposure (look at the diagram above) is to avoid dust or cleaning buildings with large populations of deer mice.  

I encourage everyone to use the comments section below!
  • Lance D. Presser has a PhD in microbiology and immunology and is a public health laboratorian.
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