Be Mindful Of Hantavirus While Cleaning This Spring

Logan D Suza

Saskatchewan residents are being reminded to take precautions against hantavirus as they start spring cleanup of enclosed buildings or vehicles.

Saskatchewan occupants are being reminded to avoid potential risk against hantavirus as they begin spring cleanup of encased structures or vehicles.

Inhaling contaminated airborne particles from the saliva, urine, and droppings of infected deer mice can result in a hantavirus infection. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a rare but potentially fatal lung disease that can be caused by it.

According to Saskatchewan’s Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Julie Kryzanowski, “Exposure most frequently occurs when cleaning sheds, barns, garages, cabins, or vehicles after winter.” After sweeping, particles can enter the air, but you can also contract the virus by touching contaminated objects and then touching your nose, mouth, or eyes.”

Typically, symptoms begin within one to six weeks of exposure. They incorporate fever, muscle throbs, hack, cerebral pains, queasiness and spewing.

Some individuals experience severe symptoms that can be fatal. If you have a cough, a fever, or trouble breathing, see a doctor right away.

Play it safe while cleaning rat plagued regions:

  • 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 is also recommended to reduce rodent infestations:

  • 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.

In Saskatchewan, 37 cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome were reported between 1994 and 2022; 13 of those cases resulted in death. The total case numbers are subject to change because they include preliminary data for 2022.

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