With the recent hantavirus reported deaths in the state it is important to be aware of the risk of the virus and how to avoid potential exposure.
What is hantavirus?
Hantavirus is a virus carried by rodents, and can be passed to humans, causing Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). This disease is rare and symptoms are much like those of influenza infection , followed by difficulty in breathing.
The deer mouse is the most common source of the virus in North America, although many other rodents can also carry it. The virus is shed in the droppings, urine, and saliva of infected rodents. Humans are infected when they inhale dust that contains dried, contaminated rodent urine or feces. Transmission may also occur when dried materials contaminated by rodent feces or urine are disturbed and are directly introduced into broken skin or into the eyes, nose, or mouth. Rodent bites may also transmit the infection.
Eliminate possible rodent food sources
- Keep food in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids.
- Clean up spilled food right away and wash dishes and cooking utensils soon after use.
- Keep outside cooking areas and grills clean.
- Always put pet food away after use and do not leave pet-food or water bowls out overnight.
- Keep bird feeders away from the house and utilize squirrel guards to limit access to the feeder by squirrels and other rodents.
- Use a thick plastic or metal garbage can with a tight lid.
- Keep compost bins as far away from the house as possible (100 feet or more is best).
- Keep grains and animal feed in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids. In the evening, uneaten animal feed should be returned to containers with lids.
How to properly clean up rodent urine and droppings?
- Wear rubber or plastic gloves.
- Spray urine and droppings with a disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water. Make sure you get the urine and droppings very wet. Let it soak for 5 minutes.
- Use a paper towel to wipe up the urine or droppings.
- Throw the paper towel in the garbage. Spray disinfectant • Mop or sponge the area with a disinfectant or bleach solution.
- Wash gloved hands with soap and water or spray a disinfectant or bleach solution on gloves before taking them off.
- Wash hands with soap and warm water after taking off your gloves.
Do not sweep or vacuum up mouse or rat urine, droppings, or nests. This will cause virus particles to go into the air, where they can be breathed in.
Use either of these when cleaning up after rodents
General-purpose household disinfectant. Make sure the word “disinfectant” is written on the label.
Bleach and water solution. Mix 1 ½ cups of household bleach with 1 gallon of water. Smaller amounts can be made with 1 part bleach and 9 parts water.