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Iroquois County resident diagnosed with rodent-spread disease

WATSEKA — The Illinois Department of Public Health reported late Friday (5/11) afternoon that an Iroquois County resident has been diagnosed with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.

The syndrome is a disease spread by rodents, according to the report.

The Iroquois County resident first showed symptoms in late April after cleaning out a structure where rodents were seen and was hospitalized in May with fever and shortness of breath.

The person is recovering after being released from the hospital.

Results of tests from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be available next week.

According to a Department of Public Health press release, it marks the state's third case of the disease.

The first case, which was reported in 1996, involved a northwestern Illinois man who died from the disease.

The second case, which was reported in 2005, involved a Kankakee County man who had worked in a greenhouse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control website — http://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/hps/ — hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a serious respiratory infection that can be life-threatening.

The site says people can be infected by inhaling dust contaminated by saliva, urine or droppings from an infected rodent, often a deer mouse, which is tan or brown with white hair on the underbelly. (A common house mouse is typically gray.)

The disease can also be transmitted when an infected rodent bites a person or when the person has direct contact with rodent excretions and then touches his or her mouth before washing the hands.

The site says symptoms include fever, headaches, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting, and can take about two weeks to appear.

The department urges people to avoid contact with wild rodents and to keep lawns mowed and homes free of debris or trash to keep rodents away from buildings.

People should make sure rodents don't have access to water, food or nesting sites. They should keep food scraps and garbage in rodent-proof metal or thick plastic containers with tight-fitting lids.

In addition, people should not allow pet or animal food to sit out, and they should use steel screens, caulk or weather stripping to seal holes or gaps around the house and garage doors to keep rodents out of buildings.