Hantavirus infection is a rare but serious, life-threatening illness. It is believed to be caused by breathing in the virus carried by airborne particles of rodent urine, droppings or saliva.
The disease does not cause illness in pets and it cannot be passed from person to person or from pets to people.
The best protection against the virus is to prevent all rodents from entering your home or cabin and to carefully clean and disinfect where they have been.
The primary carrier of the hantavirus is the deer mouse but it is possible that other rodents may sometimes carry the virus.
It a person is infected the disease will generally appear within four or five days. Early symptoms resemble those of the flu, including a fever of 38 to 40 C (101 to 104F), body aches, and chills. Hantavirus progresses from these symptoms to severe difficulty in breathing. Medical attention is required.
Who is at risk?
Families living in houses with rodents or who move into a home where rodents were living.
Campers and hikers visiting areas with rodents. Avoid all rodents' burrows and dens. Do not use cabins until they have been aired out and disinfected. Pitch tents in areas without rodent droppings. Avoid camping near woodpiles or garbage areas where rodents might live. Use tents with floors or cover ground under sleeping bags. Sleep on elevated cots, if possible. Use only boiled, bottled, filtered or chemically treated water. Store foods in rodent proof containers and promptly discard or burn or bury all garbage.
Individuals who clean barns, electricians, plumbers, or others who work in crawl spaces. Breathing protection should be used when entering areas where rodents have been. Wear protective clothing, shoes and gloves that can be disinfected or thrown away.
How to protect yourself
A — Keep it clean. Clean up immediately and store foodstuffs in rodent proof containers.
B — Secure your home or camp by ensuring rodents can't get in.
C — Ensure the area around your home or cabin is cleared of brush and keep trash at least 100 feet away. Do not leave pet food, water or food dishes out overnight.
D — Make sure you wet mop with a bleach solution — do not sweep because dry sweeping raises dust and increases exposure. Mop first.
Deer mice have been found to be the carrier of hantavirus in the U.S. and southern Canada. Deer Mice are found in southern and central Yukon. Their numbers peak in late August and early September after early frosts.
Yukon Communicable Disease Control
Hours of Operation:
Monday to Friday
Appointments – 8:30am to noon
Drop-in – 12:30pm to 4:00pm
Toll Free (Yukon, Nunavut and NWT); 1-800-661-0408 ext. 8323
Yukon Communicable Disease Control (4 HospRd)
Health & Social Services, Government of Yukon
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2C6
Location: 4 Hospital Road | Whitehorse, YT [map]