Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), more commonly known as hantavirus, is a life-threatening disease carried by rodents in their urine and droppings. The disease is spread to humans through the inhalation or ingestion of the virus. The main vector of hantavirus is the deer mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus, however all of the Peromyscus family has the ability to carry and transmit hantavirus. It is important to know, that the standard house mouse, Mus Musculus, has not been shown to be a carrier for hantavirus. Special consideration should be taken when an individual encounters rodent droppings in a closed environment where it is dark and dry (cabin, home, shed, cellar, etc…). At elevations above 4500 ft, all rodent droppings should be handled with the same care as infected droppings. DO NOT SWEEP DRIED RODENT DROPPINGS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. If possible, slowly open doors and windows to prevent stirring dust, allowing as much natural light into the area as possible. UV rays emitted by the sun are one of the best disinfectants for the delicate virus. All droppings should be sprayed with a 1:10, bleach to water solution until moist, then scooped into a sealable container and discarded with normal trash left outside and exposed to the sun. Masks and gloves should be used at all times during this process. Proper cleanup and precautions can allow for safe family outings in areas where hantavirus may be a concern. For more information on hantavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control hantavirus web page at www.cdc.gov/hantavirus.
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