Protect yourself from disease-carrying pests

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. Mesa County has its first confirmed case of hantavirus in about 20 years and the second reported case for the county ever.

"That gives that even more evidence that yes, this is here, there are more rodents and people are catching it more easily," said Veronica Daehn Harvey, of the Mesa County Health Department.

A boy from Mesa County is being treated in Denver for hantavirus and the Mesa County Health Department is warning others to be extra careful around mice.

"Doctors can treat the symptoms, but they can't really treat the virus," Daehn Harvey said. "You're better off just taking the steps that you can to make sure you don't contract it in the first place."

Infected deer mice spread hantavirus through their droppings and saliva. The virus then goes into the air and people can breathe it in.

"This is a big deal," she said. "38% of people that get hantavirus will die from the disease."

There have been more mice around this summer than usual, Daehn Harvey said.

Jerry's Pest Control has also been getting more calls than most summers for mice problems.

"We're averaging probably about six a day," said Roy Moore, president of Jerry's Pest Control. "Normally we probably get one or two a week this time of year."

Moore has his employees wear masks when going into enclosed areas with mouse droppings.

"It is something that we'll talk to the staff and try to make sure everybody's trying to follow some precautions when they're out working because we get into crawl spaces at attics all the time," he said.

People can also open windows when working in areas that could have mice and clean the ground with a bleach-water mixture.

Other rodents like prairie dogs have been to blame for spreading fleas carrying the pneumonic plague in other areas of Colorado this month.

There are four confirmed pneumonic plague cases in the state, but none in Mesa County to date.

Both the plague and hantavirus begin with flu-like symptoms.

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