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    Public Health

    nbraden@jeffco.us
    303-232-6301

    Monday - Friday
    8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

    Contact Us

    645 Parfet Street
    Lakewood, CO 80215

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    Lakewood Clinic

    645 Parfet Street Lakewood, CO 80215
    303-232-6301
    Fax: 303-239-7088

    WIC Clinic in Arvada

    6303 Wadsworth Bypass Arvada, CO 80003
    303-275-7510
    Fax: 303-275-7503

    WIC clinic in Edgewater

    1711 A & B Sheridan Blvd Edgewater, CO 80214
    303-271-5780
    Fax: 303-239-9592

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  • Hantavirus

     

    Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a serious respiratory disease caused by a virus (hantavirus). Hantavirus is carried by wild rodents, particularly deer mice, and is present in their droppings (feces), urine and saliva. These dried droppings or urine can be stirred up in dust and breathed in by people.

    People may get hantavirus when they breathe in air contaminated by the virus. Hantavirus has not been shown to infect other kinds of animals, such as dogs, cats or farm animals. The disease is not contagious and does not spread from human to human.

    Symptoms

    The incubation period (time between exposure and appearance of symptoms) varies widely, but ranges from one to six weeks, with an average of two to three weeks. Hantavirus has been shown deadly in nearly half of its cases.

    • First symptoms of HPS include high fever, headache, and muscle pain, severe abdominal, joint and lower back pain, nausea and vomiting.
    • A cough and shortness of breath usually develops one to five days after the onset of symptoms.
    • The primary symptom of HPS is difficulty in breathing due to fluid build-up in the lungs. This can quickly progress to respiratory failure. The onset of these symptoms begins from one week to six weeks after exposure.

     

    Initially, there are no respiratory symptoms present. Symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, sinus congestion and a cough that produces phlegm are not associated with hantavirus infection. However, within one to five days, the illness quickly progresses to respiratory distress, including a dry cough and difficulty breathing caused by the lungs
    filling with fluid.

    Because no effective treatment exists for the disease, prevention is emphasized as the key to avoiding hantavirus. "When hantavirus infection is suspected or confirmed, early admission to a hospital where careful monitoring, treatment of symptoms and supportive therapy can be provided is most important," said John Pape, a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment epidemiologist who specializes in animal-related diseases. "If you become ill with these symptoms, it is important to tell your physician about possible exposures to deer mice or rodent-infested environments."

    Prevention

    The best way to prevent the risk of hantavirus infection is to control the presence of rodents in and around the home. See our Preventing Animal-Borne Disease brochureDownload Adobe Reader from Downloads Page for more information.

    Precautions

    • Control presence of rodents
    • Rodent-proof buildings by plugging holes or other mouse entryways.
    • Conduct year-round rodent control, using traps or poisons, or hire a professional exterminator.
    • Make home or work areas uninviting to rodents by keeping indoor areas clean, especially kitchens. Dispose of garbage in sealed containers.
    • Eliminate food sources by storing food in rodent-proof containers, including food for pets, livestock and birds.
    • Remove rodent hiding places near the home such as wood, junk and brush piles; store firewood at least 100 feet from the house; keep vegetation around the house well-trimmed.
    • Use special precautions when cleaning rodent infested structures.
      • Open doors or windows to provide good ventilation for 30 to 60 minutes before cleaning out structures.
      • Avoid stirring up dust by watering down areas of mouse infestation with a mixture of bleach and water.

     

    Because hantavirus is often encountered when cleaning vacated sheds, cabins or other enclosed areas, it is important to clean out areas where rodents have been very carefully. Areas should not be swept or vacuumed as this can stir up dust. Instead, use gloves and thoroughly wet contaminated areas with a bleach solution or household disinfectant.

    Once wet, contaminated materials can be taken up with damp towel and then mopped or sponged with bleach solution or household disinfectant.
    Contaminated gloves should be disinfected before taking them off.
    After taking off the clean gloves, wash hands with soap and warm water.

    Deer Mouse Description

    Deer mice are brown on top and white underneath. They have large ears relative to their head size. House mice on the other hand are all gray and have small ears. These small, gray house mice commonly found in urban areas do not carry the disease.

    For more information, contact Dave Volkel, Environmental Health Services, Zoonosis Program, at 303-271-5730 or dvolkel@jeffco.us.

     

    Last Updated: 5-3-2013