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6TH CASE OF HANTAVIRUS FOUND IN UTAH

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The Utah Department of Health has reported the state's sixth case of hantavirus.

Hantavirus is the often-fatal illness that attacks the respiratory system and has been linked to rodent droppings.The victim, a 19-year-old male from Juab County, is out of the hospital and doing well. He was hospitalized with pneumonia earlier this month, but unlike most hantavirus sufferers, never required use of a respirator.

Department of Health officials believe the young man was exposed to the hantavirus at home, but the investigation is continuing, said department spokesman Ross Martin. Officials will analyze rodent droppings from the home and blood samples from other family members.

The virus was spotted when one of the state's "surveillance doctors" decided to send up a blood specimen, although his patient did not have the adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) generally associated with the hantavirus, Martin said.

State lab tests confirmed the presence of hantavirus, although that confirmation is presumptive. The Centers for Disease Control have not completed lab work yet, but the CDC in the past has confirmed the findings of the state health lab.

"The kid is doing well. He's excited about giving blood and seeing why" his illness was less extreme, Martin said.

Of 90 cases reported nationwide, only three have not had to go on ventilators. Two of Utah's six cases were fatal, while the national fatality rate is 54 percent.

Health officials are reminding residents to take precautions with rodent droppings. Wear rubber gloves and wet the droppings down thoroughly with a 1-to-10 solution of bleach and water, since the hantavirus gets in dust and is inhaled.