Franklin County woman with Hantavirus dies at Trios - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Franklin County woman with Hantavirus dies at Trios

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KENNEWICK, WA - A woman with Hantavirus died last week. Although the Benton County Coroner is still waiting to get results from a lab to determine the exact cause of death, reporter Stefani Zenteno looked into why health officials are warning people to avoid exposure.

Almost 40 percent of people who catch the virus can die from it. It's a serious lung infection and people can get it by breathing in air contaminated with the virus or through direct contact with saliva, urine, and droppings of rodents.

Heather Hill with the Benton-Franklin Health District says it's typically carried by the deer mouse.

"There's evidence of them under the sink, along the baseboards, in the garage," Hill said. "You need to use the exact same precautions inside your house for cleaning them up. Open the doors, windows, use a bleach solution before you start cleaning the mouse evidence."

Health officials say the best way to prevent the virus is to avoid all wild rodents.

"It's a very bad pneumonia in the lungs, and since it's a virus the only way to treat it is supportive care," said Hill. "Antibiotics don't kill viral infections."

The coroner is still investigating the case of the woman who died last week with the virus. The case is the 4th Hantavirus case reported in the state of Washington in the last six months.

"So if you are working on a farming area and you are going into sheds and buildings, be very cautious," Hill advised. "Look at the area before you start getting dust worked up."


KENNEWICK, WA - We learned today that a woman who had Hantavirus died last week on April 25th at Trios hospital. The health department reported that a Franklin County woman had the virus. 

The Benton County Coroner told us he's waiting for a report from a forensic pathologist before he determines the woman's cause of death.

You can get infected by breathing in air contaminated with the virus, or direct contact with infected rodents, their saliva, urine, or droppings.


KENNEWICK, WA - A Franklin County resident has been confirmed as having had Hantavirus. The exposure likely occurred in Franklin County and is the 4th case of Hantavirus reported in Washington State in the last 6 months. Historically there have been 3 reported cases of Hantavirus in Franklin County since 1996.

As the weather becomes nicer and people begin to clean in and around their properties, Benton-Franklin Health District reminds residents to exercise caution.
People become infected with Hantavirus mainly by breathing in air contaminated with the virus, or through direct contact with Hantavirus-infected rodents, or their saliva, urine, droppings, or nesting material. In Washington State potentially infected rodents are primarily deer mice. Hantavirus is not transmitted person to person.

Hantavirus can progress to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), a rare but serious respiratory illness. Through January 6, 2016, a total of 690 cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome have been reported in the United States, and thirty-six percent of all reported cases do not recover.

Symptoms usually begin 1-8 weeks after exposure to infected deer mice. Early symptoms of HPS may include, fatigue, fever and severe muscle aches.. Later symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath.

The best way to prevent Hantavirus is to avoid all wild rodents. Prevent rodents in your home/workplace by sealing up holes inside and outside your home. Trap rodents with snap traps and eliminate possible rodent food sources. When cleaning, avoid actions that raise dust such as sweeping or vacuuming in a rodent infested area.

If you think you have been exposed to deer mice, remember, Hantavirus is rare. Watch for symptoms for up to eight weeks after exposure and if symptoms develop, see your doctor and mention your possible exposure.

For more information on HPS and Hantavirus, go to:


For more information on rodents, and rodent clean up, go to: