Hantavirus is a virus that is found in the urine, saliva, or droppings of infected deer mice and some other wild rodents. It causes a rare but serious lung disease called Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).
People can become infected with a hantavirus when they:
- inhale virus particles from rodent urine, droppings or saliva that have been released into the air, this can happen when rodent waste is stirred up from vacuuming, dusting or sweeping.
- touch objects or eat food contaminated with the urine, droppings or saliva of infected rodents
- are bitten by a rodent infected with a hantavirus (this is rare)
There are a number of ways you can help to prevent a hantavirus infection:
1. prevent rodent infestations
- block openings that might let rodents in
- store food, water and garbage in containers with tightly fitted lids
- place mousetraps throughout buildings
- keep your yard clean
- stack woodpiles away from buildings
2. Properly clean and disinfect areas contaminated by rodent droppings.
- Wear rubber or plastic gloves. If you are cleaning in a confined space, wear a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtered respirator.
- Do not sweep or vacuum rodent droppings. This will release particles into the air, which you could then breathe in.
- Spray droppings with a household disinfectant or a mixture of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Let the area soak for 10 minutes to make sure any virus within the droppings will be killed.
- Wipe up wet droppings with paper towels or a wet mop if dealing with a large area.
- Wash gloves in disinfectant and hot soapy water before taking them off. Afterwards, wash your hands thoroughly.
- If a wet mop was used to clean the area, use disinfectant and hot soapy water to clean the mop.
Symptoms of Hantavirus
- fever and chills
- muscle aches and headaches
- nausea and vomiting
- stomach pain
More severe symptoms may include:
- shortness of breath
- severe difficulty breathing
See a health care provider immediately if you have had contact with rodents or their droppings and urine and are showing some or all of the above symptoms. For more inforamtion on hantavirus click here.