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Health officials confirm Montana's first Hantavirus case of the year

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Mar 22 2013 10:54:10 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Montana typically sees one or two cases of Hantavirus every year.

I sat down with folks at the Gallatin City County Health Department to learn more about it.

"Any particular population of deer mice will have some portion of that population probably infected with Hantavirus because they're a host," says Gallatin City-County Health Department Environmental Health director Tim Roark.

Roark tells me it's important to take precautions to keep Hantavirus carriers out of your home.

"Make sure it's clean, there's no food source, no water and they can't get in," says Roark.

As folks are gearing up for spring cleaning, clearing out barns or out buildings, Roark says it's crucial to look for signs of rodents, like droppings or nests.

"The most important thing for people to remember is do not sweep those up. Hantavirus is generally received when it's attached to dust and kicked up," explains Roark.

Instead of sweeping up nests or droppings, health experts recommend you use gloves to soak whatever you find in disinfectant or a bleach solution for five minutes before throwing it out in a plastic bag.

I went to a local hardware store to see if I could find folks preparing for spring cleaning.  

Gallatin Valley local Paul Rugheimer wasn't there for plumbing supplies but tells me he owns a family farm north of town.

"In the past, we've had barn cats and house cats that take care of the mice on the farm.  I think it's less of a problem because we don't store any grain or anything so, there's not a good food supply," says Rugheimer.

Though he's not concerned about the virus, Rugheimer does say, he takes the proper precautions when he finds signs of rodents on his property.

The person who contracted the Hantavirus in Deer Lodge County is expected to make a full recovery.

It's on of 36 cases in Montana since 1993, when the virus was discovered.