Be careful cleaning buildings where mouse droppings may be found
June 16, 2008
Public health officials are urging residents to take precautions to avoid hantavirus infection. According to the Wyoming Department of Health, a Carbon County man may have died last week from hantavirus, according to preliminary test results. This death will be the 7th reported case of hantavirus in Wyoming since 2000.
Hantavirus is a serious respiratory disease spread by deer mice feces or urine. Deer mice are common to rural areas. People contract the disease when they breathe in contaminated dust particles. It is fatal in nearly half of the cases.
May, June and July are typically when most of the human cases occur because that is when people begin cleaning structures that have been closed up all winter. People who live in rural areas where deer mice are present are likely to be at risk to exposure to this virus.
Symptoms begin one to six weeks after exposure. The symptoms begin with a high fever, severe body aches, headache and vomiting. Within one to five days the illness quickly progresses to respiratory distress, including a dry cough and difficulty breathing when the lungs fill with fluid.
There is no effective treatment for hantavirus. If exposure is suspected or confirmed, individuals should seek immediate medical treatment and tell the treating physician about possible exposure to rodent-infested environments.
Before cleaning structures that have been infested with rodents, it is recommended that the area be ventilated for 30 to 60 minutes. It is recommended that areas that have accumulations of mouse droppings, dust and dirt be sprayed with a mixture of water and bleach.