The Mountain Messenger

Public Health Lookout


“Housework can’t kill you but why take a chance.” – Phyllis Diller

This month’s article is to inform you that housework can make you sick if not done properly. What I am talking about is cleaning up after rodents that may have taken up uninvited residence in your home. You could put a virus (hantavirus) that they carry into the air that people breath in and become sick or even die. In California, deer mice carry Sin Nombre virus which can cause Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome in people. Statewide, approximately 12% of deer mice are infected with this virus. Infected deer mice shed this virus when they defecate or urinate, presenting a potential risk to humans. The California Department of Public Health Vector-Borne Disease Section makes the following recommendations when cleaning rodent contaminated areas of your home, garage, vehicle, or other enclosed space.

Do not vacuum or sweep rodent contaminated areas. This can stir up virus that has been deposited by mice in their feces and urine.