Deadly rodent virus kills 3 in Washington

The Washington State Department of Health confirmed five cases of hantavirus among state residents in 2017. Three of those infected died.

The total marks the highest number of infections reported in the state since 1999. Hantavirus typically infects rodents, but humans can catch the disease after exposure to the infected animals or their urine and droppings.

"It is important to eliminate or minimize contact with rodents and to take precautions when cleaning rodent-infested areas," said the health department. "If you think you've been exposed to deer mice, watch for symptoms such as fever, muscle aches and shortness of breath for up to eight weeks after exposure. If symptoms develop, see your healthcare provider and mention your exposure to deer mice."

The most widely publicized hantavirus outbreak occurred in 2012 when 10 people were infected in Yosemite National Park in California. Three of the infected individuals died. All but one case was linked to tent cabins infested with deer mice, according to Reuters.

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