Hantavirus Infections Drop

DENVER-The number of hatavirus infections has mysteriously dropped this year, leaving scientists to continue scratching their heads concerning this particularly enigmatic virus.

A decrease in rodent populations and changing weather patterns, both seemingly tied to El Nino, are thought to be the cause of the infectious decline. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report there have been five cases of the respiratory disease linked to hantavirus this year. In comparison, there were more than 30 cases last year.

Researchers think a decrease in food for deer mice and animal density and population have affected the infection rates. Humans become infected with the virus by inhaling infected urine, saliva, or fecal particles left by deer mice.

Symptoms of the virus include fatigue, fever, muscle aches, headaches, dizziness, chills, and nausea. The virus can be fatal, however if it is caught quickly, the symptoms can be treated. There is no known cure.

This year, there were two hantavirus case in Idaho, and one each in Arizona, Montana, and Washington.

Information from www.arizonarepublic.com