What Is It?
- A group of viruses that are commonly carried by rodents.
- Hantaviruses may cause a rare, but very deadly, disease — called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS).
What animals carry hantaviruses?
Some rodents commonly carry and can transmit hantaviruses to humans, including the white-footed mouse, deer mice, and pack rats. Not all rodents carry hantaviruses. House mice, roof rats, and Norway rats have not been known transmit HPS to people. It is difficult to tell if a mouse or rat is carrying hantavirus so it is best to avoid wild mice and rats all together. Cleaning up rodent urine, droppings, or nests in your home will help avoid hantaviruses. It is good to keep in mind that dogs and cats cannot transmit a hantavirus infection to humans.
How do people get HPS?
Rodent urine and droppings that contain a hantavirus can get stirred up into the air and reach humans via inhalation. Other common ways humans come in contact with hantaviruses is when they touch mouse or rat urine, droppings, or nesting materials that contain the virus, and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. Mice or rat bites can also transmit this virus. There a few activities that can put you at risk of HPS that you should avoid, including:
- Improperly cleaning up mouse and rat urine, droppings, and nests
- Cleaning a shed or cabin that has been closed for some time.
- Working in areas where mice and rats may live.
How can HPS be prevented?
Keep mice or rats out of your home. If you find rodent urine or droppings in your home, quickly clean and remove the mess to help prevent exposure to the virus. A disinfectant or mixture of bleach and water are good solutions for clean up.
Symptoms of HPS
Initial signs of HPS include a fever, severe muscle aches, and fatigue. Some have reported headaches, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pains as well. Those that get HPS will become sick 1-5 weeks after they were around mice or rats carrying a hantavirus.
For more information about hantavirus pulmonary syndrome do the following:
- Call your state or local health department.
- Call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 1.877.232.3322
- See the CDC web page at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hanta/hps/index.htm
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