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Hantavirus Kills Man on Camping Trip

L.A. County tourist visiting Mono County is state's 16th death from the infection since 1993.

July 29, 2006|Rong-Gong Lin II | Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles County man has died of a hantavirus infection after visiting a campground in Mono County, state health officials said Friday.

Health investigators suspect that the 52-year-old man was infected with the virus, which is present in rodent feces and urine, while he was camping with his family in a trailer near Bridgeport, about 50 miles north of Mammoth Lakes near the Nevada border.

He died July 14 after being airlifted to the Washoe Medical Center in Reno. His death from hantavirus pulmonary syndrome was the 16th involving a California resident since 1993, when the syndrome was identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The last previous hantavirus death in California occurred in 2003, and the last nonfatal case was recorded in 2004.

Since 1993, there have been 438 cases reported nationwide, with 46 in California. Most of those infected in California were exposed in Mono County and its southern neighbor, Inyo County.

Hantavirus is typically contracted by inhaling particles of mouse urine or droppings. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches and difficulty breathing.

Health officials warn people not to sweep up rodent feces or urine, which could release the virus into the air. Instead, people should spray diluted bleach over the droppings and use plastic gloves and a wet sponge or mop for cleanup.

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