Thanks to bobman for tweeting the link to this report in the Roanoke Times: Illness in Snowville remains 'isolated incident,' officials say. Excerpt:
The Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continued Saturday to investigate an as-of-yet unidentified illness that killed two people from Pulaski County on Friday and left four others hospitalized into Saturday.
No new cases were reported Saturday, the VDH said in news release. The agency again called it an isolated illness and said they have no reason to believe the public is in danger.
The four hospitalized at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital and the two who died were limited to a small group of people — one family and a “close family friend,” health officials said.
Josh Tolbert, the emergency management coordinator for Pulaski County, said Friday that the illness could be hantavirus, an infection that can lead to fatal symptoms.
Robert Parker, a VDH spokesman, said that hadn’t been confirmed and that investigators are looking at a number of different illnesses, as is standard.
Hantavirus infects people when they come into contact with rodents who have it, or when they’re near their droppings or urine. The disease has never been spread among people in the United States.
“There is still no indication of person-to-person transmission and no indication of any public health risk,” said Molly O’Dell, the physician director of the New River Health District. “This continues to appear to be an isolated incident with a single-source exposure.”
Tolbert said Friday the family had been cleaning out a mobile home near their residence and that the family dumped materials in a container at a nearby dump site.
Parker wouldn’t say how old the victims are or what specific area they’re from, citing privacy protections. Tolbert and Pulaski County Sheriff Jim Davis said Friday that the family is from Snowville.
Samples were taken from the people who died, Tolbert said. It will likely be early this week before the results come back.
Health department officials reiterated Saturday in their news release that “the locations where exposure might have occurred are on private property and have been secured.”
If it is hantavirus, the onset and progress were remarkably rapid.