AHS Weekly Wellness News: Protect Yourself from Hantavirus


Simple steps to stay safe

As spring cleaning gets underway, Albertans are reminded of the important steps they should take to protect themselves from Hantavirus.

Hantavirus is a serious illness that mostly affects the lungs/respiratory system. Caused when humans inhale airborne particles of urine or feces from an infected rodent, anyone working in an area where mice or mice droppings might be present and become disturbed, can be at risk.

To protect yourself and reduce your risk of illness, follow these precautions whenever cleaning areas of mice or mice droppings:

  • Open doors and windows for ventilation, and keep out of the area for at least 30 minutes prior to commencing clean up.
  • Wear rubber gloves, thoroughly soak droppings, nests and dead mice with a bleach/water solution (one part bleach to nine parts water) or a household disinfectant.
  • Let the bleach water solution sit for five minutes.
  • Never disturb any droppings, nests or dead mice, prior to soaking with this bleach solution.
  • Mop up bleach-soaked droppings, nest and/or dead mice, or pick up with paper towels, and place them in a plastic bag.
  • Seal the bag and put in a garbage container with a tight fitting lid.
  • Wash your gloves before removing, and then wash your hands.
  • Never vacuum or sweep droppings, nests or dead mice. This can create dust that can be inhaled. The dust may contain Hantavirus.

Although rare, Hantavirus can be fatal. Infected individuals typically show symptoms one to two weeks following exposure; however, symptoms can appear up to five weeks after exposure. Symptoms resemble severe flu, including fever, body aches, chills, abdominal problems and severe breathing problems.

For more information visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca or call Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-5465.

Source Alberta Health Services – Environmental Public Health