Health officials warning about Hantavirus in Okla.

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OKLAHOMA CITY - As many Oklahomans start cleaning out cabins, attics, storage units and other areas not used in the winter months, the State Health Department is warning about a deadly virus that may be lurking.

The Oklahoma State Health Department is reporting the first Hantavirus death in 12 years.

Rodents sometimes get in unused areas to nest, sometimes leaving behind the Hantavirus.

When these vermin become infected, the virus is emitted in their droppings, urine and saliva.

Officials said one in three people who become infected die from the virus.

Health officials said as you sweep, spray and clean up those areas, simply inhaling contaminated dust can infect you.

The virus can travel to your chest and cause Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.

"The initial symptoms are not very specific, fever chills, coughing shortness of breath, body aches and that's about it," Laurence Burnsed said, Epidemiologist for Oklahoma State Dept. of Health.

"People need to be aware that when you go into areas to start your clean up process, ventilate them for at least 30 minutes Burnsed said."

Health officials said you can also clean the area yourself by using a mixture of bleach and water but wet down the area first so you don't stir up any dust.

Kelly Johnson owner of Oklahoma Pest Solutions in Edmond said he gets calls like this all the time.

"We have some real effective ways to completely get rid of the problem.

He said if you are concerned about the virus, calling a professional may be the best option.

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