Hantavirus can come with spring cleaning

The Mesa County Health Department is warning residents to be cautious when spring cleaning in order to avoid contracting Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome.

Hantavirus can be spread through the urine, saliva or droppings of infected deer mice (brown except for the white hair on their abdomen) that mixes with dust and dirt. The disease can spread to people, particularly when they inhale particles that contain the virus while cleaning homes, sheds and outdoor structures.

The first signs develop within a few days or up to six weeks after initial exposure and can include fever, fatigue and muscle pain, particularly in the legs and back, and sometimes headache, chills, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting or abdominal pain. A cough, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing can develop four to 10 days after initial symptoms appear. The disease can lead to respiratory failure or death.

Sixty-two percent of people infected survive. Infection is rare; an average of four Coloradans contract hantavirus yearly.

These steps are suggested to avoid contamination:

■ Open doors and windows for 30 to 60 minutes before cleaning a structure to ventilate it.

■ Water down mouse infestation areas with bleach and water.

■ Keep indoor areas clean, especially kitchens.

■ Store food in rodent-proof containers.

■ Throw out trash in sealed containers.

■ Plug holes or other places mice may enter.

■ Use traps or poisons or hire an exterminator to conduct year-round rodent control if you live in a rural area.


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