Hantavirus and How to Safely Clean Up After Mice

First identified in the early 1990s, HPS(Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome) is a very rare disease caused by becoming infected with the hantavirus. Since then just over 500 cases have been reported in over 30 states from all regions of the United States except for Alaska and Hawaii.

How do people get HPS?

The most common way people get HPS is when they breath in hantaviruses. This can happen when rodent urine and droppings that contain a hantavirus are stirred up into the air. People can also become infected when they touch mouse or rat urine, droppings, or nesting materials that contain the virus and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. They can also get HPS from a mouse or rat bite. It cannot be spread from person to person.

Do not sweep or vacuum up mouse or rat urine, droppings, or nests. This will cause the virus particles to go into the air, where they can be breathed in. 

How to clean up mouse and rat urine and droppings:

  • Wear rubber or plastic gloves
  • Make bleach solution by mixing 1½ cups of household bleach with 1 gallon of water. Smaller amounts can be made with 1 part bleach and 9 parts water.
  • Spray urine and droppings with the mixture of bleach and water. Make sure you get the urine and droppings very wet. Let it soak for 5 minutes.
  • Use a paper towel to wipe up the urine or droppings
  • Throw the paper towel in the garbage
  • Mop or sponge the area with the bleach solution
  • Spray gloved hands with the bleach solution before taking them off
  • Wash hands with soap and warm water after taking gloves off

How to clean up a dead mouse or rat in a snap trap and how to clean up a rodent nest:

  • Wear rubber or plastic gloves
  • Make bleach solution by mixing 1½ cups of household bleach with 1 gallon of water. Smaller amounts can be made with 1 part bleach and 9 parts water.
  • Spray the dead mouse, rat, or nest, as well as the surrounding area, with the mixture of bleach and water. Let it soak.
  • Place nesting materials or trap with the dead rodent in a plastic bag. If you plan to reuse the trap, get the mouse or rat out of the trap by holding it over the bag and lifting the metal bar. Let the mouse or rat drop in the bag. Disinfect the trap.
  • Seal the bag. Place the full bag in a second plastic bag. Seal that bag.
  • Throw the bag into a covered trash can that is regularly emptied or contact your state health department for information on other ways to throw away dead mice and rats
  • Spray gloved hands with the bleach solution before taking them off
  • Wash hands with soap and warm water after taking gloves off

What are the symptoms of HPS?

At first people with HPS will have:

  • Fever
  • Severe muscle aches
  • Fatigue

After a few days they will have a hard time breathing. Sometimes people will have headaches, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Usually, people do not have a runny nose, sore throat, or a rash. If you have these symptoms seek medical attention.

Sources:
http://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/pdf/HPS_Brochure.pdf

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