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Hantavirus test results negative for woman at Montgomery Co. home

Monday, September 10, 2012
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Health officials have revealed negative hantavirus test results for a woman who became sick while helping to clean out a trash-filled home in Montgomery County.

Three samples from individuals who were in the home, including the sick woman hospitalized, came back with negative results, according to Dr. Mark Escott, deputy local health authoritity for Montgomery County.

It was the news that family members and neighbors were hoping for. State tests came back negative for the woman who was thought to have contracted the hantavirus.

The home on Slash Pine Place where the ill woman had been working had been quarantined since last Friday. That quarantine was lifted late Monday afternoon.

Officials say the infected woman was part of a crew cleaning inside the garage of the home for the TLC show "Hoarders: Buried Alive" when she left and became ill. Officials say she exhibited symptoms of the virus then tested positive for the virus through a blood test at the local level.

Dr. Escott said that result was a 'false positive' and that state tests proved the woman, along with two others tested, did not have the hantavirus. The doctor said they still do not know what made the woman sick.

"The testing process is a bit unchartered territory and it's constantly being revised based on what we find out from situations like this. There's a reference range for the test, which below the range is negative and above the range is positive. We send that test, the confirmation to the state lab, or the reference lab, to determine if it's a 'true positive' or a 'false positive.' In this situation, that reference lab as come back as a false positive," Dr. Escott said.

We're told the state test is subtly different from the local test and that the test is more refined at the state level.

Health officials would not release the current condition of the hospitalized woman.

According to health officials, the hantavirus, which is not contagious, is contracted by breathing in dried urine and feces from infected rodents. However, health officials are urging neighbors to be aware of flu-like symptoms.

A hantavirus outbreak in Yosemite National Park killed three people, and as many as 22,000 people may have been exposed to the disease.

Eight people have gotten sick so far. Health officials believe visitors at the Curry Village tent camp and the High Sierra camps were exposed to the hantavirus. Curry Village has been closed as park officials deal with a rodent infestation.. But the High Sierra camps are still open.

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