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Unusual Hantavirus Deaths Worrying to Department of Health

Two adult Utahns have died in the last month from Hantavirus infection, which leads to a deadly lung disease. That comes as a surprise to the Utah Department of Health.

Epidemiologist Jody Baker says Utah typically only sees about one Hantavirus case a year and the fatality rate is about 32%.

"To have 2 fatalities so early in the season is definitely unusual. That's why we wanted to get the message out to the public to be aware of what to look for when it comes to exposure, rodent droppings, how to clean appropriately, and what symptoms to look for."

The disease is not spread from person to person but from breathing in the dust around rodent infested areas that contain the virus. It's typically observed in the summer months.

The symptoms begin with fever, muscle aches and chills, but Baker says the disease has a long incubation period, "Meaning the time that you're exposed to the time that you develop symptoms can be awhile, anywhere between 2 - 5 weeks. So if people are exposed they're not going to have symptoms the next day."

She urges anyone experiencing symptoms who has been exposed to rodents to see a physician.

The Utah Department of Health has published advice for avoiding Hantavirus exposure.