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Ministry of Health reports 35th case of hantavirus in Saskatchewan since 1994

People can be at risk of contracting hantavirus if they come into contact with deer mice, according to the Saskatchewan Health Ministry.
People can be at risk of contracting hantavirus if they come into contact with deer mice, according to the Saskatchewan Health Ministry. Government of Saskatchewan / Supplied

The first reported case of hantavirus in Saskatchewan in 2020 was confirmed earlier this week.

Ministry of Health officials said that the infected working-aged individual was from a rural area in central Saskatchewan.

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There have now been 35 confirmed cases of hantavirus in the province since first reported in 1994, 11 of which have resulted in death, officials said.

Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province’s chief medical health officer, reminded people to be cautious of hantavirus while giving an update about the novel coronavirus response in Saskatchewan.

“[For] a while we’ve been focusing a lot on COVID. Everything else is still there and we just need to take the usual precautions and in this case when you’re opening cabins up after the winter season,” Shahab said at a press conference on Thursday.
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“A reminder for everyone just before the long weekend that when you are opening cabins or sheds or garages after a period of time… just be cautious.”

May long weekend activities in Saskatoon
May long weekend activities in Saskatoon

Exposure to hantavirus can cause a rare but often fatal disease called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), which can progress rapidly into serious complications.

In Saskatchewan, officials said humans are most often exposed by breathing in air particles contaminated by deer mouse saliva, urine or feces containing infectious hantaviruses. This can occur, for example, after sweeping or vacuuming infected areas.

For information on cleaning rodent-infested areas, visit the government’s website.