Annual reminder to be aware of hantavirus while spring cleaning

Spring cleaning is underway, and Saskatchewan residents are being reminded to be mindful of hantavirus.

Infection is caused by breathing in contaminated airborne particles from the droppings, urine and saliva of infected deer mice. It can cause a rare, but potentially fatal, lung disease known as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.

Symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, cough, headaches, nausea, and vomiting, usually start one to six weeks after exposure; seek medical attention immediately if you have a cough, fever and shortness of breath.

Precautionary tips while cleaning buildings and vehicles include:

  • ventilate the building by opening doors and windows, and then leave the area for at least 30 minutes before cleaning;
  • avoid using dry cleaning methods such as dusting, sweeping, vacuuming or air-hosing;
  • use wet mopping methods and wear rubber or plastic gloves;
  • wear goggles and a well-fitting N-95 type filter mask when cleaning areas contaminated by droppings;
  • dampen areas contaminated with rodent droppings with bleach disinfectant and remove droppings with a damp mop or cloth;
  • steam clean, shampoo or spray upholstered furniture with a detergent, disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water; and
  • wash exposed clothes and bedding with detergent in hot water.

Prevention measures include:

  • block openings that might allow rodents to enter a building;
  • store human and animal food, water and garbage in pest-proof/resistant containers with tightly-fitted lids; and
  • move woodpiles or other potential hiding places for mice away from your home.

There have been 37 cases of hantavirus in Saskatchewan between 1994 and 2022, 13 of which were fatal.

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