Hantavirus Information: Useful Facts to Protect Your Family From This Mouse and Rat-Borne Virus!

Facts About Hantaviruses

What You Need To Know To Prevent The Disease Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)

Related topics

"Información sobre los Hantavirus: Lo que Usted Debe Saber para
Prevenir la Enfermedad del Síndrome Pulmonar por Hantavirus"
Available online in Adobe Acrobat reader format.

What are hantaviruses?

Hantaviruses are a group of viruses that may be carried by some rodents. Some hantaviruses can cause a rare but deadly disease called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. The disease is called HPS for short.

What animals can give people hantaviruses?

Only some kinds of mice and rats can give people hantaviruses that cause HPS. In North America, they are the deer mouse, the white-footed mouse, the rice rat, and the cotton rat. However, not every deer mouse, white-footed mouse, rice rat, or cotton rat carries a hantavirus. Other rodents, such as house mice, roof rats, and Norway rats, have never been known to give people HPS. Since it is hard to tell if a mouse or a rat carries a hantavirus, it is best to avoid all wild mice and rats and to safely clean up any rodent urine, droppings, or nests in your home. Dogs and cats cannot give people hantavirus infections.

Who can get HPS?

Any man, woman, or child who is around mice or rats that carry harmful hantaviruses can get HPS. You do not have to already be sick to be at risk for HPS. Healthy people have become ill with HPS. While HPS is a very rare disease, cases have occurred in all regions of the United States except for Alaska and Hawaii.

These are some of the mice and rats that can carry hantaviruses in the United States

Deer mouse (left)

 

Cotton rat (right)

 

 

How do people get HPS?

People get HPS when they breath in hantaviruses. This can happen when rodent urine and droppings that contain a hantavirus are stirred up into the air. People can also become infected when they touch mouse or rat urine, droppings, or nesting materials that contain the virus and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. They can also get HPS from a mouse or rat bite.

Here are some activities that can put people at risk for HPS:

In the United States, there has never been a case in which a person with HPS has given the disease to another person.

What are the symptoms of HPS?

If people get HPS, they will feel sick 1 to 5 weeks after they were around mice or rats that carried a hantavirus. At first people with HPS will have:

After a few days they will have a hard time breathing. Sometimes people will have headaches, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Usually, people do not have a runny nose, sore throat, or a rash.

How can HPS be prevented?

Use either of these when cleaning up after mice and rats:

General-purpose household disinfectant. Make sure the word “disinfectant” is written on the label.

OR

Bleach and water solution. Mix 1 1/2 cups of household bleach with 1 gallon of water.

Clean-up tip:

How To Clean Up After Mice and Rats

How to clean up mouse and rat urine and droppings:

How to clean up a dead mouse or rat in a snap trap and how to clean up a rodent nest:

  1. Wear rubber or plastic gloves.
  2. Wash gloved hands with soap and
  3. Water or spray a disinfectant or bleach solution on gloves before taking them off.
  4. Wash hands with soap and warm water after removing your gloves. Spray gloves before taking them off

Nesting Materials:

Some materials mice and rats use to build their nests include paper, tissues, insulation, and the stuffing from furniture.

If you live in the western United States, you may be at risk for plague carried by fleas from rodents. Use insect repellent (containing DEET) on clothing, shoes, and hands to reduce the risk of flea-bites while picking up dead rodents. Contact your local or state health department to find out if plague is a danger in your area and for more information on other fleacontrol methods.

How to clean out cabins, sheds, barns, or other outbuildings:

Why keep mice and rats out of your home?

Some mice and rats can carry harmful diseases, such as HPS, leptospirosis, lymphocytic choriomeningitis, plague, and typhus. The best way to protect you and your family from these diseases is to keep mice and rats out of your home.

What you can do inside your home:

How To Keep Mice and Rats Out of Your Home

 

What you can do outside your home:

Where to look for gaps and holes outside your home:

Where to look for gaps or holes inside your home:

How to seal gaps and holes inside and outside your house:

Trapping tips:

Keep traps away from children and pets.

Use only snap traps. Glue traps and live traps should not be used. These traps can scare the caught live mice and rats and cause them to urinate. This may increase your chance of getting sick.

How to use snap traps:

Place trap so it makes a “T” with the wall

How to use poison baits:

Important trapping and bait reminders:

Keep traps and bait out of reach from children and pets.

If you live in the western United States, you may be at risk for plague carried by fleas from rodents. Use insect repellent (containing DEET) on clothing, shoes, and hands to reduce the risk of flea-bites while picking up dead rodents. Contact your  local or state health department to find out if plague is a danger in your area and for more information on flea-control methods.

Place bait where you have seen mice or rats

Free CDC Facts About Hantavirus  Booklet (PDF)

Facts About Hantavirus cover page"Facts About Hantavirus" Brochure Adobe PDF file [PDF - 182 KB]

 

For more information about hantavirus pulmonary syndrome or rodent control, call your state or local health department. Or call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 1-877-232-3322

This page was updated on 15-May-2015