Health officials advise cautious spring cleaning after local hantavirus death last year

Health officials advise cautious spring cleaning after local hantavirus death last year

TRI-CITIES, Wash. – With spring break around the corner, many folks will start their spring cleaning, but local health officials want to make you aware of how the hantavirus can spread as you're cleaning out your cabinets or sheds.

Locally, hantavirus is transmitted by deer mice, and the virus is spread through their urine, saliva and droppings.

"It can be very, very serious,” Hill said. “Usually the symptoms start to appear 3-5 days after exposure. Starts with fever, chills, and achiness, but then it turns into a pulmonary syndrome where the lungs start filling up with massive amounts of fluid and that’s when it becomes the life-threatening stage.”

Hill said three out of five people will die from it.

As you are cleaning, you can be exposed to hantavirus by breathing contaminated dust while picking up rodent droppings or nest.

"So, prevention is the best way to approach this because hantavirus is so lethal, people die from this," said Heather Hill, Communicable Disease Supervisor at the Benton Franklin Health District.

Health officials say to take precautions when cleaning, and wet the rodent area with bleach solution (9 parts water 1 part bleach), let it set for at least 10 minutes and wear gloves while cleaning.

Experts say do not vacuum because it will kick up dust. They suggest using paper towels to clean the droppings and dispose them immediately.

One woman died from hantavirus in Franklin County last May.

Ways to help prevent rodent contact include sealing holes inside and outside your home, use snap traps and dispose any rodent food sources.

More information on the hantavirus can be found here.

For information on rodents and clean up, refer to the Washington Department of Health website.

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