First Hantavirus Case on Navajo Nation, 4.20.21

PRESS RELEASE – Navajo Department of Health cautions public about Hantavirus as first case of the year confirmed

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center, issued a Health Advisory Notice on Monday regarding the Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), which is a rare but potentially fatal disease spread by infected rodent droppings. The first case of Hantavirus this year was confirmed in McKinley County, within the Navajo Nation.

The health advisory states that “it is not known at this time where the individual contracted Hantavirus. HPS on the Navajo Nation can occur in all months of the year, but the greatest number of cases have been documented in the spring and summer months. There is evidence that periods of high rain and snowfall are associated with increased cases of HPS.”

“During spring and summer, we urge Navajo citizens to continue practicing preventative measures to avoid any exposure to many illnesses and diseases. Individuals are usually exposed to Hantavirus around their homes, sheds, and poorly ventilated areas with mouse droppings. To avoid any outbreaks, consider preventative actions to stop the spread, such as cleaning around the home,” said President Nez.

HPS is transmitted to people that come into contact with or breathe infected deer mice droppings, urine, or saliva. It is essential to take appropriate precautions when entering and cleaning sheds, garages, campers, cabins, barns, and other buildings. The illness is not spread from person to person.

Symptoms of HPS can be much like COVID-19 or the flu, and only a medical exam and laboratory tests can determine the difference. There is no vaccine or cure for HPS, but steps can be taken to reduce the risk of getting the disease.

“HPS, COVID-19, or any respiratory disease needs to be taken seriously. We encourage everyone to continue monitoring any flu-like symptoms. Please be cautious of any unclean surroundings that may have rodents and mouse droppings,” said Vice President Myron Lizer.

To prevent HPS, public health officials recommend the following:

§ Clean-up for mildly infested areas of rodent activity.

§ Open all doors and windows for 30 minutes before cleaning.

§ Do not stir up dust by vacuuming, sweeping, or any other means.

§ When rodent droppings or nests are found, spray them with a household disinfectant and allow them to soak for at least 15 minutes. Disinfectant solution can be made by mixing 1 cup of bleach with one gallon of water.

§ After disinfecting, wear rubber gloves and clean up the droppings with disposable materials such as paper towels, rags, or disposable mop heads.

§ Seal all materials, droppings, or nests in double plastic bags and dispose of them in the trash.

§ Prevent rodents from entering the home by plugging or sealing all holes and gaps to the outside greater than 1/4-inch in diameter.

§ Eliminate or reduce rodent shelter around the home by removing outdoor junk and clutter and moving woodpiles, lumber, hay bales, etc.

§ Do not make food readily available to rodents. Do not leave pet food in the dishes. Dispose of garbage in trash cans with tight-fitting lids.

For more information regarding HPS, call the Navajo Epidemiology Center at 928-871-6539 or visit and


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