"This time of year, a lot of people start spring cleaning in places where rodent droppings are found; such as sheds, barns, and cabins," says Dr. David Blodgett, SWUPHD Health Officer. "If hantavirus is present, it can be inhaled and cause respiratory illness within a few weeks."
Hantavirus infection, called Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, starts with flu-like symptoms followed by difficulty breathing and can be life-threatening. Treatment includes intensive hospital care to deal with the respiratory distress. Hantavirus is not known to spread person-to-person.
Hantavirus infection can be prevented by avoiding contact with rodents, including nests and droppings.
• Seal openings in structures and set mouse traps.
• Allow an infested area to air out for at least thirty minutes before cleaning.
• Clean droppings by spraying with disinfectant (one part bleach to ten parts water works well), then wipe up with disposable paper towels.
• Wear gloves while cleaning or when handling nests or dead mice.
For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/hantavirus.