Possible hantavirus case in Hockley County - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Possible hantavirus case in Hockley County

Possible hantavirus case in Hockley County. (Source: Pixabay) Possible hantavirus case in Hockley County. (Source: Pixabay)
(Source: KCBD) (Source: KCBD)

We are looking into reports of a possible hantavirus case in Hockley County.  Two sources tell KCBD that Family Dollar has been closed due to the hantavirus.

We spoke with an employee who says she tested positive for the virus, and photos were taken at the store today of signs posted on the door saying the business is closed until further notice.

KCBD reached out to Family Dollar Spokesperson Randy Guiler who said it voluntarily closed its store in Levelland on February 8 as a precaution after suspicion of pest infestation in the building's ceiling. 

Guilder said Family Dollar immediately alerted city health inspectors who cleared the store to reopen on February 11.

Since that time, three store employees have reported having flu-like symptoms, and while initial tests results indicate the employees' health was not impacted by the infestation, the State Health Department is currently confirming those results.

The State Health Department is also conducting a more thorough review of the store to confirm it is safe for employees and customers.

KCBD has learned from the office of one of our elected lawmakers that the State Health Services Department has confirmed that it is aware of the hantavirus reports at Family Dollar and it is now forwarding samples to its disease control labs for testing and confirmation of those positive test results for hantavirus.

The state is taking this additional step because some labs have produced false positives when testing for hantavirus.

Guilder said the store will remain closed until the investigation is complete. 

Guilder said Family Dollar is committed  to working closely with state and local authorities to ensure this issue is resolved. 

We've called the Hockley County Health Department but have not been able to get in touch with anyone there. Covenant Health Levelland tells us they cannot confirm if anyone is being treated with the virus due to HIPPA. 

Bruce White with Covenant Health Levelland said the hospital works closely with officials from the Texas Department of State Health Services and reports any community health issues that arise. 

We called the Texas Department of State Health Services, and spokesman Chris Van Deusen tells us they do not talk about suspected cases of hantavirus...only confirmed. 

He it is required for suspected cases of hantavirus to be reported immediately. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hantavirus is an infection that can become fatal. 

People become infected through contact with hantavirus-infected rodents or their urine and droppings. 

The types of hantavirus in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another. 

Early symptoms may include fatigue, fever, and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups-thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulder. 

These symptoms are universal. 

There may also be headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Diagnosis may be difficult in the early symptoms as they are often confused with influenza. 

If an individual has been exposed to rodents and experiences these symptoms, please visit your health care provider. 

Since 1993, Van Duesen said there have been nearly 23 cases of hantavirus reported on the South Plains. 

Learn more about the virus by clicking here.

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