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For most Californians, the risk of getting FACTS ABOUT Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, or HPS, is a
Hantavirus is carried by wild rodents. In
California, only one rodent species is known to
HPS is extremely low. Fewer than 50 cases
of HPS have been diagnosed in California in
the last 10 years. Rodents in homes or HANTAVIRUS rare but often severe disease which is associated
with rodents. Rodents which are infected with
hantavirus shed the virus in their urine,
carry hantavirus: the deer mouse (scientific
name, Peromyscus maniculatus). Deer mice are
similar in size to house mice (4-7 inches) but,
buildings in an urban or suburban IN CALIFORNIA droppings, and saliva. People can become unlike house mice, are grey to brown on top and
community are likely not deer mice but infected if they breathe in virus particles that white underneath, and have large unfurred ears.
house mice or roof rats, neither of which have been stirred up into the air.
carries hantavirus. Symptoms such as fever,
headache, muscle pain, and shortness of SYMPTOMS OF HPS
breath are common to many different
illnesses and are more likely to be due to The first symptoms of HPS begin about 1-5
something other than hantavirus infection. weeks after exposure and resemble the flu:
Any concerns you have about your health or fever, headache, and muscle aches.
possible exposure to hantavirus should be
discussed with your health care provider.
For information about HPS and rodents in
your community, contact your local health
department or vector control district.

Deer mice can be found in most undeveloped

areas throughout the state. They prefer brush,
shrubs, and rocks, but will enter homes and
buildings for food, shelter, and nesting material.
After 2-5 days, HPS patients develop difficulty Not all deer mice carry hantavirus and the
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a rare breathing. Breathing problems are often severe
the HPS patient may need to be hospitalized for
proportion of infected mice varies throughout
the state. Infected deer mice appear healthy and
but frequently fatal illness that occurs intensive care. There is no specific treatment for normal. It is also difficult to tell deer mice from
Published by the State of California throughout the western United States, HPS. Approximately 25% of HPS patients other kinds of rodents that dont carry
Department of Health Services
Vector-Borne Disease Section
including California. By familiarizing diagnosed in California have died. Persons with hantavirus. Therefore, persons should avoid
1616 Capitol Ave, MS 7307 yourself with how hantavirus is transmitted HPS cannot give it to someone else. contact with all rodents.
P. O. Box 997413
Sacramento, CA 95899-7413 and by taking appropriate precautions, you
Dogs, cats, birds, insects, and other animals
(916) 552-9730 can prevent infection in yourself and family.
cannot serve as a source of hantavirus infection.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor

S. Kimberley Belsh, Secretary Sandra Shewry, Director

Health and Human Services Agency Department of Health Services

April 2005
TRANSMISSION OF HANTAVIRUS PREVENTION OF HANTAVIRUS INFECTION Removing rodents from homes Keeping rodents out of homes
Place spring-loaded snap traps along Check buildings regularly for signs of rodents;
People can get HPS when they have contact Infection with hantavirus can be prevented by baseboards and in areas where rodents are look for live or dead mice, droppings, urine
with infected deer mice or materials keeping rodents out of homes and other entering the home. stains, nests, and gnawing marks. Look for
contaminated with deer mouse droppings or buildings and cleaning contaminated areas in a holes or gaps inside and outside the building.
urine. Infection usually occurs through safe manner. Inside, check within and behind kitchen
breathing in particles of infectious rodent cabinets, inside closets, around vents, behind
droppings or urine that have been stirred up Cleaning areas contaminated by rodents appliances, around windows and doors, around
into the air. Failure to wash hands after Dead rodents, rodent nests, and droppings all electrical, water, gas, and sewer lines.
handling rodents or rodent-contaminated should be removed and surfaces cleaned before Outside, look around windows and doors,
materials may also lead to infection. areas are reused. between the foundation and the ground,
between the foundation and the siding, around
Before entering or cleaning potentially electrical lines and water pipes, and in eaves
contaminated areas, open windows and doors and vents in the roof.
and allow the area to air out for 1-2 hours.
Seal all holes that are
Wear latex or rubber gloves. Painters, dust, and larger than 1/4 inch in
surgical masks do not provide adequate Do not use glue or live traps as these may diameter. Use cement,
protection against hantavirus. increase your risk of infection. Place traps near wire screening, hardware
areas of rodent activity, but out of the reach of cloth, or steel wool.
Wet down rodent pets and children. Examine traps regularly and Reinforce the sealing
carcasses, traps, nests, remove trapped rodents promptly. Dispose of material with caulk or
and other potentially potentially contaminated traps or thoroughly expanding foam.
contaminated items and disinfect them prior to reuse.
surfaces with dilute Reducing attractions for rodents
Examples of activities that pose a risk of bleach or disinfectant. A Place rodent carcasses, traps, and other The following measures can reduce the risk of
hantavirus infection include: mixture of 1 cups of contaminated items in a plastic bag. Tie off the rodents in and around homes:
bleach or Lysol in a bag, place inside a second bag and tie the
< Entering sheds, cabins, barns, or other gallon of water is second bag as well. Dispose of bags with other < Place woodpiles, vegetable gardens,
buildings where rodents are present effective at killing the garbage. trash cans, and pet food at least 100 feet
virus. from the house.
< Cleaning or working in enclosed,
poorly ventilated spaces contaminated Allow dampened areas to sit for 15 minutes then < Promptly remove uneaten pet food.
by rodents clean up with a mop or sponge. Do not vacuum
or sweep. Contaminated items that cannot be < Keep food in tightly sealed containers.
< Handling live or dead rodents without disinfected (e.g., paper, wood, fabric) should be
gloves carefully set outside for 2-3 days to allow < Fix leaks in sprinklers or other outside
sunlight to inactivate the virus. pipes that might attract rodents as a
< Disturbing or cleaning up rodent nests water source.
or droppings When done, rinse gloves in bleach or Lysol
solution before removing. Remove gloves, < Keep garbage in tightly sealed
dispose in garbage, and thoroughly wash hands containers and dispose of at least
with soap and water. weekly.