Hantavirus: Cleaning Up Rodent-Infested Areas
British Columbia Specific Information
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a severe disease caused by the virus called hantavirus. Symptoms are similar to the flu and include fever, sore muscles, headaches, nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, and shortness of breath. In Canada and the United States, the disease is very rare, but serious. In North America, about 1 out of 3 people with HPS have died. For more information about HPS, see HealthLinkBC File #36 Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).
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Use extreme caution when cleaning rodent-infested areas. Take the following precautions to avoid becoming infected with hantavirus.
- Wear rubber or plastic gloves at all times while cleaning.
- Before you start cleaning, open all doors and windows for at least 30 minutes. Stay out of the area until the 30 minutes is up. If you are in an enclosed place, you may also want to wear goggles and a respirator with a filter to avoid breathing contaminated dust.
- Do not stir up dust by sweeping up or vacuuming up droppings, urine, or nesting materials. Instead, wet all areas to be cleaned with a household disinfectant, such as Lysol, or a solution of 240 mL (1 cup) bleach in 2.4 L (10 cups) of water. Make sure you also treat the dead rodents, their nests, and droppings.
- Clean up droppings or nest materials with paper towels or rags and place them in plastic bags. Place dead rodents in plastic bags. Seal each bag before throwing it away in the garbage.
- If you use a spring-loaded snap trap, you can clean it by pouring very hot water on it.
When you have finished cleaning and disposing of the rodents and other contaminated materials:
- Wash your gloves in disinfectant solution or soap and water before you take them off.
- Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after you take off the gloves.
If you have an area that is heavily infested with rodents, call a professional exterminator to remove them. You also can contact your local health unit for help.
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert L. Cowie, MB, FCP(SA), MD, MSc, MFOM - Pulmonology
Current as ofMay 22, 2015
Current as of: May 22, 2015
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