Exposure is more common in rural areas, but hantavirus is rare in the five-county region, with the last case reported four years ago in Iron County.
From 1991 to date, there have been 29 documented cases in Utah, said JoDee Baker, an epidemiologist for the state Department of Health.
Summer is peak season for hantavirus, which is carried predominantly by deer mice in North America. People are usually exposed by breathing contaminated dust after disturbing or cleaning rodent droppings or nests or by living or working in rodent-infested environments.
In North America there is no evidence of the virus spreading from human to human, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Infection can lead to respiratory failure or Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), a deadly lung disease with a mortality rate of 38 percent.
To avoid exposure, health officials recommend that residents wear a mask, glasses and rubber gloves when cleaning up rodent urine and droppings with bleach and water, not by sweeping.
Early detection of symptoms and treatment by a doctor are also key, Baker said.
Hantavirus symptoms generally begin with a fever greater than 100.5 degrees, muscle aches, and chills. Other common symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and headache. Less common symptoms are dizziness or a light-headed feeling, sweating, and joint, back, chest, or abdominal pain.
To avoid hantavirus exposure while cleaning up rodent urine and droppings, health officials recommend these steps.
Wear a mask, glasses and rubber gloves.
Do not sweep out infested areas.
Instead, first soak the droppings in disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water for five minutes. Use a paper towel to wipe it up. Then mop the area with a bleach solution, and wash hands with soap and warm water.
The recommended cleaning solution is a mixture of 1½ cups household bleach and a gallon of water. A smaller amount can be made with one part bleach and 10 parts water.