What is Hantavirus?
Hantavirus is a virus carried by rodents and can be passed to humans, causing Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).
How is hantavirus spread?
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.
Signs and Symptoms of hantavirus infection:
Fatigue, fever and muscle aches especially in large muscles (thighs, hips, back and shoulders). There may be headaches, dizziness, chills and abdominal problems. Four to 10 days after the first phase of illness an infected person will experience symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath as lungs fill with fluid.
Who is at risk?
Anyone who comes in contact with rodents carrying hantavirus is at risk for developing HPS.
Opening and cleaning previously unused buildings; housecleaning activities; work-related exposure; camping and hiking
HPS has a high death rate and has been fatal in over one-third of the cases reported.
Prevent it before it happens:
Seal holes inside and outside the home; trap rodents around the home; clean up rodent food sources and nesting sites by tightly storing all food, pet food, trash and animal feed; get rid of possible nesting sites outside the home by moving woodpiles far from the house, keeping grass and shrubbery well-trimmed. Elevate hay and trash at least one foot off the ground.
Properly clean up after rodents:
Trap all live rodents and seal entryways so no more can get in. After a week of trapping, if no more rodents are captured then enough time has passed that the urine/ droppings or testing material is no longer infectious.
When cleaning: wear gloves to clean urine/droppings and soak the droppings with bleach before picking up with a paper towel; clean and disinfect the whole area; for heavy infestations, use gloves, goggles, protective clothing and a respirator.
More information can be found through your healthcare provider; Utah Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology, 801-538-6191; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.