Hantavirus found in Central Alberta

Alberta Health Services says a Central Albertan has been infected with hantavirus from exposure to urine or feces of an infected rodent, such as a mouse.

Alberta Health Services says a Central Albertan has been infected with hantavirus from exposure to urine or feces of an infected rodent, such as a mouse.

No other details about where or when the infection occurred, or the condition of the person, will be released.

The virus was confirmed earlier this week and was the first confirmed case in Central Alberta this year.

“People generally know about hantavirus but sometimes we get complacent. This is a virus that’s in the environment and it’s something to always keep in mind when dealing with areas that have been infested by mice,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, medical officer of health with AHS Central Zone, on Thursday.

Although hantavirus infection is rare, it can be fatal. Those infected generally show symptoms one to two weeks after exposure, however symptoms have been known to appear up to five weeks after exposure.

Symptoms often resemble severe flu including fever, body aches, chills, abdominal problems and severe breathing problems.

One case of hantavirus was confirmed in Alberta in 2011.

Hinshaw said the number of cases has been fairly stable over the years in Alberta.

To safely clean mouse droppings, nests, or dead mice people should take the following precautions:

• Open doors and windows for ventilation and keep out of the area for at least 30 minutes prior to commencing clean-up.

• Wearing rubber gloves, thoroughly soak droppings, nests and dead mice with a bleach/water solution (one part bleach to nine parts water) or a household disinfectant.

• Let the bleach water solution sit for five minutes.

• Never disturb any droppings, nests or dead mice, prior to soaking with bleach solution.

• Mop up bleach-soaked droppings, nests 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, which can create dust that can be inhaled. The dust may contain hantavirus.

Anyone dealing with significant mouse infestations should contact Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-5465 to discuss necessary special precautions.

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