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Health officials: Utah County woman dies of hantavirus

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PROVO — A Utah County woman has died of hantavirus-related complications, Utah County Health Department officials reported Tuesday.

The woman was between 18 and 44 years old and had no other apparent health issues, officials said.

This is the second hantavirus-related death in the state this year. Officials said a man between the ages of 45 and 64 died in June.

The rare but potentially deadly illness is transmitted by infected rodents. People who breathe air contaminated by rodent urine, droppings or saliva are at risk. The virus can also be transmitted through an infected rodent biting someone.

"Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry the virus is at risk," Utah County Health Department executive director Ralph Clegg said in a statement. "People need to be taking precautions when working in areas with potential rodent droppings and nests."

He cautioned people who are cleaning unused buildings, hiking or camping to use a disinfectant spray on areas with droppings and wait 15 to 20 minutes before cleaning.

Early symptoms of infection include fever, fatigue and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups. People who experience these symptoms and have been exposed to rodents should contact their health care provider immediately, officials said. As the virus progresses, it causes fluid to fill the lungs and will cause coughing and shortness of breath.

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is fatal in one-third of cases reported, according to officials.

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Daphne Chen

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