Hantavirus Claims Life In Pelican Narrows

Wednesday, February 02, 2005 at 14:39



Health officials still haven’t pinned down how a young woman in Pelican Narrows contracted a form of hantavirus that eventually killed her.


Her death a couple of weeks ago is believed to be the first of its kind in northern Saskatchewan.


Medical health officer Dr. Mandiangu Nsungu says the woman likely inhaled air contaminated by mouse droppings, but it’s still unclear where exactly that took place.


Nsungu and other health officials will be educating local residents about prevention techniques, but he says there’s no reason for alarm.


It’s estimated one per cent of Saskatchewan mice carry the disease.


Since 1994, 16 people have been infected with hantavirus in Saskatchewan — four of those cases have been fatal.


Last year, Saskatchewan had a record-high four documented cases of humans being infected with hantavirus.


The province’s medical officer of health, Dr. Ross Findlater, says while the condition is rare, it’s very hard to treat and can happen anywhere.


Peter Ballantyne communities will be getting pointers on Hantavirus prevention techniques in the wake of this recent episode.


The First Nation has also shut down a school building in Deschambault Lake as a precaution, since Hantavirus is spread through deer mice droppings and the school is believed to have a fair amount of rodents.


Peter Ballantyne chief Ron Michel says he doesn’t want to create a panic in the band’s communities, but he does want to raise awareness about how this condition is developed.


Health officials say people shouldn’t sweep up mice droppings, since it increases the chance of a person inhaling infected particles in the air.


Instead, it should be cleaned up with a wet mop and disinfectant in a well-ventilated area.