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Hanta Virus – The Invisible Killer

The Hanta Virus, although rare, is a disease carried and transmitted by deer mice. The disease is carried by about 6% of the total population of deer mice in Canada. Mice infected with the hanta virus will not show any visible symptoms of the disease.

Confirmed cases of the Hanta Virus have been documented throughout the United States and South America, but in Canada most cases of the Hanta Virus have occurred in the Yukon Territory and the four western provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Canada has typically had anywhere from 10-15 confirmed cases of the virus each year since 1993.

People are at risk of contracting this virus when they are exposed to the saliva, urine or feces of deer mice. This most commonly occurs when people discover rodent activity in their homes, RVs and cottages and try to clean up these spaces without taking the appropriate precautions.

Exposure can lead to the individual acquiring Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). Roughly 30% people whom have contracted HPS have succumbed to the illness.

You can best protect yourself from contracting the Hantavirus by:

  • Rodent proofing your home, business, RV or Cottage using caulking, screening and other methods to prevent mice from entering the structure.
  • Contacting a pest professional to eliminate rodents from the structure
  • Properly ventilating spaces that have had visible signs of rodent activity
  • Spraying rodent contaminated areas and their droppings with a disinfectant or bleach/water solution prior to cleaning up the affected area.
  • Wearing a N95 respirator and latex gloves while cleaning up areas contaminated by mice.
  • Washing fabrics and linens solid by mice.
  • Thoroughly washing your hands after cleaning up contaminated areas.

For more information on the Hantavirus, please review the following articles:

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in Canada: An overview of clinical features, diagnostics, epidemiology and prevention

Death by mouse: Hantavirus cases still rare but mounting, researchers warn

Spring cleaning brings risk of hantavirus

Calgary woman contracts hantavirus, lives to tell tale

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