Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease in humans caused by infection with hantaviruses.
Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry hantaviruses is at risk of HPS. Rodent infestation in and around the home remains the primary risk for hantavirus exposure. Even healthy individuals are at risk for HPS infection if exposed to the virus. Hantavirus is not transmitted from person to person.
The NDDoH recommends the following steps to safely clean up areas with possible rodent infestation:
- Ventilate the space by opening the doors and windows for 30 minutes. You should leave the area during this period.
- Do not stir up dust by sweeping or vacuuming up droppings, urine, or nesting materials.
- Wear gloves and spray dead rodents, droppings or nesting materials with disinfectant. Use a paper towel to pick up the urine and droppings and dispose of the waste in the garbage.
- Mop floors and clean countertops, cabinets and drawers with disinfectant.
- Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after the cleanup.
- Do not have young children assist with cleanup of potentially infectious material.
Symptoms of HPS can occur up to six weeks after exposure, with most cases showing symptoms within about two weeks. Early symptoms commonly include fever, muscle and body aches, fatigue, headache, dizziness, chills, nausea and vomiting. Within a few days the illness progresses to include coughing and severe shortness of breath as the lungs fill with fluid. Anyone with exposure to wild rodents who experiences these symptoms should contact their physician and tell them about their exposure.
A fact sheet containing important precautions to minimize the risk of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome infection is available at www.ndhealth.gov/Disease/Documents/faqs/Hantavirus.pdf. For more information, contact Jill Baber, North Dakota Department of Health, at 701.328.2378.