How to Protect Yourself from Hantavirus

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At Risk Activities

Certain activities can put people at more risk for hantavirus:

  • Dry sweeping or using air blowers to clean structures that are not often used
  • Working in barns or out-buildings
  • Living in rodent-infested areas
  • Occupying places that have been empty for a long time
  • Using bare hands to handle grain that could be polluted with rodent droppings
  • Hiking or camping in rodent-infested areas

Prevention

There are several ways of preventing hantavirus infections. Personal protection measures listed below will help lower exposure to airborne particles when cleaning up rodent droppings.

  • Do not vacuum, sweep or dust
  • Air out unused rooms or buildings that have been empty for a long period of time for 30 minutes by opening doors and windows 
  • Use wet cleaning method.
  • Always wear latex or rubber gloves and protective respiratory equipment, such as a face mask
  • Spray dead rodents or droppings with disinfectants before removing
  • Place dead rodents and their nesting material in a sealed plastic bag before throwing them away
  • After cleaning, wash your gloved hands, remove the gloves and dispose of them, and then wash your bare hands as well

Protect Your Home

One of the best ways of preventing exposure to hantavirus is to stop rodents from entering homes or cabins.

  • Seal all holes large enough for mice to get in (dime-size or larger) 
  • Cover or pick up pet food dishes when they are not in use 
  • Store pet food in sealed containers
  • Cover all trash cans with rodent-proof lids
  • Use mouse traps where there is evidence of mouse activity
  • Remove woodpiles, old cars, trash and debris where rodents may live
  • Store hay or firewood at least 100 feet away from buildings
  • Cut grass, weeds and trim bushes within 100 feet of buildings

CDC Information on Hantavirus Prevention