2 Californians contract deadly hantavirus, 1 dies

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José Martinez/OnCentral

A Southland woman and a Bay-area man have become the most recent Californians to contract Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).

State health officials announced Thursday that a Southland woman and a San Francisco Bay-area man have become the most recent Californians to contract Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).

The illness is an often-fatal one that's most typically spread when a person breathes in small particles of mouse urine or droppings that are stirred up in the air.

Public health officials say that so far in California this year, two of the four people known to have contracted HPS have died from it.

The most recent cases happened in late July and involve an Inland Empire woman in her 40s who recovered from the disease and a 37-year-old San Francisco Bay Area man who died, says Ralph Montano of the California Department of Public Health.

It’s believed both contracted the virus while vacationing at Curry Village in Yosemite National Park, he says. Two prior cases in 2012 involved another Bay Area man, who died, and a woman from the eastern Sierra, who survived.

Sixty Californians have become ill from the virus since it first turned up in California nearly two decades ago, and a third of those who contracted it have died.

The California Department of Public health offers these tips to avoid the virus:


  • Avoid contact with all wild rodents, their droppings, and nesting materials.

  • Store all food items securely in rodent-proof containers.

  • Examine the outside of all buildings and seal any holes or other areas that would let rodents get inside.

  • Before entering an enclosed area that may be contaminated with rodent material, allow it to air out for several hours.

  • Surfaces where rodents may have been should be wetted with a dilute bleach solution before mopping up.

  • Do not use a broom or vacuum to clean potentially contaminated areas.

  • Promptly dispose of all cleaning materials when done, and wash hands and clothes.

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