September 3rd, 2012
03:56 PM ET

Hantavirus: What you need to know

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

While there's no ironclad way to keep hantavirus away, there are steps you can take to minimize the chances that it will hurt you or your family.

The virus is relatively rare: Only 602 cases have been reported in the United States since 1993, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recently, six cases of hantavirus were reported among people who visited Yosemite National Park in California. Two of those infected people died.

However, it's very deadly: About half of all people who get hantavirus die of it, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Though some people do get it from camping, such as the recent Yosemite cases, many more people contract hantavirus in their own homes, according to the CDC.

The virus is spread by rodent droppings and urine. Here are some tips from the CDC and NIH for keeping hantavirus at bay:

1. Seal holes inside and outside your home to keep rodents out.

2. Trap rodents around your home.

3. While camping, sleep on ground cover and a pad.

4. When opening an unused cabin, open all doors and windows. Leave for 30 minutes, and when you return, spray disinfectant and then leave for another 30 minutes.

5. Know the signs: Early symptoms include chills, fever and muscle aches. Within one or two days, it becomes hard to breathe.

Stress may harm brain - but it recovers
September 3rd, 2012
03:00 PM ET

Stress may harm brain - but it recovers

We all know stress is bad for you, but just how bad?

It would be unethical to intentionally subject people to extreme psychological duress in the name of science. But ongoing military operations offer opportunities to see what happens to people exposed to stressful situations.

Researchers in the Netherlands found the brains of soldiers who go into combat show impairment in function and structure upon returning, but that these effects largely go away over time.


About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.