Coconino County Public Health Services District officials confirmed that a Flagstaff-area woman died recently from complications of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), a rare but potentially fatal disease spread by infected rodent droppings. Authorities don’t know where she became infected. The virus generally is transmitted to people who come into contact with or breathe infected urine, droppings or saliva of wild mice, primarily deer mice. The illness does not spread from person to person.
The illness starts with fever, headache and muscle aches, and progresses rapidly to severe difficulty in breathing and, in some cases, death.
Coconino hasn’t had a reported case since 2007 — and in that case the person recovered.
Arizona has reported 22 confirmed cases since 2006, half of which proved fatal.
“It is extremely important that the public takes precautions when entering and cleaning sheds, garages, campers, cabins, barns and other buildings to protect themselves from HPS,” said Randy Phillips, CCPHSD Environmental Services Division manager.