THE WOODLANDS, Texas—A home was quarantined Friday night after a woman who went inside was tested positive for hantavirus, the first case ever reported in Montgomery County.
The woman who fell ill, the homeowner’s daughter’s partner, was helping to clean the home for the TLC TV series "Hoarding: Buried Alive." On Friday, health officials learned that she had been hospitalized after contracting the illness, which authorities say is not contagious from person to person.
According to the CDC, people become infected through contact with hantavirus-infected rodents or their urine and droppings. It is mainly transmitted to people when they breathe air contaminated by the virus.
Officials have successfully contacted the 29 people who were also involved in the cleanup and now face a health scare.
The home in question is in the 11000 block of Slash Pines Road. Many were not surprised to hear about the hantavirus concern.
Maria Celaya lives three doors down from the property, which is now blocked off by "Do Not Cross" tape and deputies.
"There have been times when it has been clean," she said. "And then six months would go by and those weeds were taller than us."
It was so bad, neighbors eventually volunteered to help clean up the mess on national television.
Once the woman’s diagnosis is absolutely confirmed to be hantavirus, the Montgomery County Public Health Department will coordinate cleaning the house with a hazmat team.
There is no cure for hantavirus, which causes flu-like symptoms.
"The mortality rates over the past 20 years have ranged from 20% up to 50%," said Dr. Mark Escott, Montgomery County’s Health Director.
Three Californians who recently contracted the disease died.