Health department confirms Purdue hantavirus case

Stethoscope health medical clinic
(WISH Photo, file)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — An investigation is underway regarding a person at Purdue University with a confirmed case of hantavirus infection, according to the Tippecanoe County Health Department.

The case involved an individual who became ill after handling potentially infected mice that were captured in the wild as part of a research project, the health department reports. The person, who has since been discharged from the hospital, had blood work done at the CDC that tested positive for hanatavirus infection. The individual is expected to fully recover.

The county health department said a small number of other people who worked in the lab and may have been exposed to the mice have been identified. They have been contacted and are being monitored for symptoms, officials said.

The research study has since been terminated. Officials said no one else is believed to be at risk.

Officials with the health department said the hantavirus can be carried by rodents such as deer mice and white-footed mice, commonly found in fields and wooded areas. Although it’s rare, people can become infected with hantavirus through exposure to feces, urine or saliva of mice.

However, the health department said the hantavirus cannot be passed from person to person and is not transmitted by fleas, ticks, mosquitoes or other insects.

Symptoms of hantavirus infection include fever, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, and trouble breathing.

At this time, health officials said there is no vaccine or specific treatment for hantavirus so early recognition of symptoms and appropriate health care is critical.

County health officials said the best way to prevent infection is to avoid contact with wild mice and their droppings. For more information about reducing exposure to rodents, visit the CDC’s website.

The Tippecanoe County Health Department reported it is working closely with Purdue University, the Indiana State Department of Health, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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