INFECTIOUS DISEASE

Child in northeast North Dakota diagnosed with rare, potentially deadly hantavirus

In this undated handout from the Centers for Disease Control image library, this transmission electron micrograph (TEM) reveals the ultrastructural appearance of a number of virus particles of a hantavirus known as the Sin Nombre virus (SNV).

In this undated handout from the Centers for Disease Control image library, this transmission electron micrograph (TEM) reveals the ultrastructural appearance of a number of virus particles of a hantavirus known as the Sin Nombre virus (SNV).  (REUTERS/Cynthia Goldsmith/CDC/Handout)

BISMARCK, N.D. — Health officials in North Dakota say a child in the northeast part of the state has been hospitalized with the rare and potentially deadly hantavirus disease.

The viral infection causes severe lung disease. It is spread by through the urine, droppings and saliva of infected rodents. It is not transmitted from person to person, and the deer mouse is the primary carrier.

The state Department of Health on Wednesday said the school-aged child had contact with rodent-infested buildings.

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State epidemiologist Jill Baber says people should be mindful of the “presence or evidence” of rodents when cleaning, especially in rural areas.

This is the 15th hantavirus infection reported to the state Health Department since 1993, when the virus was first recognized in the U.S. Seven of those cases were fatal.