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Hantavirus Safety Precautions

The Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department recommends residents use caution and avoid Hantavirus when opening cabins, sheds or garages that have been closed all winter.

In Wyoming, a small percentage of the deer mouse population carries the Hanta-virus, which is Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) and a potentially life threatening disease caused by breathing dust contaminated by the virus.

Over the winter rodents seek enclosed areas leaving behind infected feces, urine, nesting material, saliva or carcasses that then dries out and becomes dust and dirt in these structures.

Safety precautions need to be taken when cleaning these structures. Always wear rubber or plastic gloves and a mask while cleaning. Spray dust and dirt with a bleach solution of 1 cup of bleach per gallon of water to both settle the dust and kill any virus present. Soak nests, carcasses, droppings or areas of urine stains with a disinfectant solution. Use disposable towels, rags or a wet mop to wipe up the dust and dirt rather than sweeping or vacuuming. Dispose of towels and rags in a covered garbage container. When finished, wash gloved hands with soap and water or spray with disinfectant solution. Once gloves are removed, wash hands with soap and water. Use of a pesticide is recommended when dealing with carcasses because of the danger of plague carrying fleas that rodents are often infested with. Place disinfectant, soaked carcass in a sealed plastic bag, place bag inside another sealed bag and place in a covered garbage can for proper disposal.

Online more information may be obtained from the CDC web page.

For more information, please contact Environmental Health at the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department – (307) 633–4090 and online at: ENVHLTH@laramiecounty.com or www.laramiecounty.com/departments/health/eh.aspx