Sim­ple pre­cau­tions can re­duce the risk of han­tavirus

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - OPINION -

Al­ber­tans are re­minded to take sim­ple steps to pro­tect them­selves from han­tavirus, a po­ten­tially fa­tal ill­ness that pri­mar­ily af­fects the lungs/res­pi­ra­tory sys­tem.

Han­tavirus is caused when hu­mans in­hale par­ti­cles of urine or fe­ces from in­fected ro­dents, usu­ally deer mice, which be­come air­borne when dis­turbed. Any­one who dis­turbs ar­eas of mice or mice drop­pings can be at risk. To pro­tect your­self and greatly re­duce your risk of ill­ness, fol­low these pre­cau­tions when­ever clean­ing ar­eas of mice or mice drop­pings:

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

· Wear rub­ber gloves, and 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, nest 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 might con­tain han­tavirus.

· If deal­ing with sig­nif­i­cant mouse in­fes­ta­tions or with mouse in­fes­ta­tions in en­closed spa­ces with poor ven­ti­la­tion, con­tact Health Link Al­berta (1-866-408-5465) to dis­cuss nec­es­sary pre­cau­tions.

In­fected in­di­vid­u­als typ­i­cally show symp­toms one to two weeks fol­low­ing ex­po­sure; how­ever, symp­toms can ap­pear up to five weeks af­ter ex­po­sure. Symp­toms re­sem­ble se­vere flu, in­clud­ing fever, body aches, chills, ab­dom­i­nal prob­lems and se­vere breath­ing prob­lems. Although rare, han­tavirus can be fa­tal. From 2014 to 2018, 16 cases of han­tavirus were con­firmed in Al­berta res­i­dents. Of those cases, one was fa­tal. There have been two cases of han­tavirus con­firmed in Al­berta this year.

Any Al­ber­tan who has re­cently been in an area con­tam­i­nated by mice and sub­se­quently de­vel­ops flu­like symp­toms or dif­fi­culty breath­ing are re­minded to see a doc­tor im­me­di­ately.

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