Most rat and mouse owners have probably heard by now that there has been a link back to pet rats to the recent outbreak of the Seoul Virus in Wisconsin and Illinois. This is linked to theHantavirus and Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, but what exactly is Hantavirus and HPS and how can an owner prevent the spread of the disease?
What is the Hantavirus?
The Hantavirus is a group of viruses that may be carried by some rodent. Some strains of the Hantavirus can cause a rare but very deadly disease called Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, or HPS. HPS is a lung infection caused by viruses found in the saliva, urine, and droppings of some rodents. (webMD definition of HPS.)
What animals can give humans the Hantavirus?
In North America, the only animals that are known to transfer the Hantavirus to humans are:
- Deer Mouse
- White-Footed Mouse
- Rice Rat
- Cotton Rat
- Pet Dumbo Rat
How do you get HPS?
You have to get the Hantavirus from a rodent that has the virus itself, but there are many different ways that the virus can be transferred to a human.
- Touching rat/mouse urine/droppings/bedding and then touching your eyes/mouth/nose/an open wound
- breathing in urine/feces odor
- Getting bit by an infected rat/mouse
- Improperly cleaning up mouse/rat urine/droppings/bedding/nests
- Cleaning a shed/cabin that has been closed for some time
- Working in areas where rats/mice may live (barns, etc.)
How to PROPERLY clean up after WILD rats/mice…
- Wear rubber or plastic gloves
- Spray urine/droppings with disinfectant or mixture of bleach and water. Make sure you get the urine/droppings very wet. Let it soak for 5 minutes.
- Use a paper towel to wipe up the urine/droppings
- Throw the paper towel in the garbage can
- Mop or sponge the area with a disinfectant or bleach solution
- Wash gloved hands with soap and water or spray a disinfectant or bleach solution on gloves before taking them off
- Wash hands with soap and warm water after taking off your glove
- General-purpose household disinfectant. Make sure the word “disinfectant” is written on the label.
- Bleach and water solution. Mix 1 ½ cups of household bleach with 1 gallon of water. Smaller amounts can be made with 1 part bleach and 9 parts water.
How to clean a PET rat/mouse cage….
Follow all the steps above. For the bleach solution, use a 15 oz water to 1 ounce bleach mixture. soak everything (dishes, toys, etc.) that isn’t wood for at least 5 minutes. This will kill everything.