Health officials say a Gallatin County woman in her 20s has died of hantavirus. RheaLynn Baxter is the 10th person reported to die of the virus in Montana since 1993. She died May 11 at Billings Clinic.
A man in his 40s is reportedly also sick with hantavirus in Carbon County.
It's not clear where Baxter contracted the virus, although health officials say both victims may have been in areas frequented by rodents. The virus is typically spread through exposure to rodent droppings, and is not spread person-to-person.
The Gallatin County Health Department says there have been 37 reported cases in Montana since 1993. Our state ranks second to New Mexico in most cases per capita.
Experts say early symptoms of hantavirus include fever, muscle aches, chills, headaches and vomiting. Within a few days, patients develop coughing and shortness of breath.
If you have any of the above symptoms and may have recently been exposed to rodents or areas where rodents might be, contact your doctor immediately. Early treatment is key to surviving the illness.
When cleaning places where rodents might be, wear gloves and thoroughly soak or spray the area with a disinfectant. Wipe or mop the area with a sponge or paper towel, throwing those items away after use. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after removing gloves. Never sweep or vacuum in these areas; doing so can stir up dust, spreading the virus.