Hantavirus case confirmed in Central Alberta
Health officials are urging people to take precautions around mouse droppings after a confirmed case of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in a Central Alberta person.
Dr. Ifeoma Achebe, medical officer of health for the central zone, says it is essential that Albertans take precautions to protect themselves and reduce risk of illness.
“Humans can be exposed to hantavirus when the urine or feces of an infected rodent — such as a mouse — become airborne, anyone who disturbs areas of mice or mice droppings can be at risk,” says Achebe.
“It is very important that anyone who has recently been in an area contaminated by mice and who has subsequently developed severe flu-like symptoms or difficulty breathing see a doctor immediately,” Achebe said.
Although hantavirus infection is rare, it can be fatal. Individuals infected with hantavirus generally show symptoms one or two weeks after exposure, however symptoms have been known to appear up to five weeks after exposure. Symptoms resemble severe flu, including fever, body aches, chills, abdominal problems and severe breathing problems.
Health officials advise to safely clean mouse droppings, nests or dead mice by opening doors and windows for at least 30 minutes before starting cleanup.
Wear rubber gloves and thoroughly soak droppings, nests and dead mice with a bleach/water solution (one part bleach to nine parts water) or another household disinfectant.
Let the bleach water solution sit for five minutes.
Never disturb any droppings, nests or dead mice, prior to soaking with this bleach solution.
Mop up bleach-soaked droppings, nests and/or dead mice, or pick up with paper towels, and place them in a plastic bag.
Seal the bag and put in a garbage container with a tight-fitting lid.
Wash your gloves before removing, and then wash your hands.
Never vacuum or sweep droppings, nests or dead mice. This can create dust that can be inhaled. The dust may contain hantavirus.
Albertans dealing with significant mouse infestations or with mouse infestations in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation should contact Health Link Alberta, at 1-866-408-5465, to discuss necessary special precautions.