June 13, 2019
CALGARY – Albertans are reminded to take simple steps to protect themselves from hantavirus, a potentially fatal illness that primarily affects the lungs/respiratory system.
Hantavirus is caused when humans inhale particles of urine or feces from infected rodents, usually deer mice, which become airborne when disturbed. Anyone who disturbs areas of mice or mice droppings can be at risk.
To protect yourself and greatly reduce your risk of illness, follow these precautions whenever cleaning areas of mice or mice droppings:
Infected individuals typically show symptoms one to two weeks following exposure; however, symptoms can appear up to five weeks after exposure. Symptoms resemble severe flu, including fever, body aches, chills, abdominal problems and severe breathing problems. Although rare, hantavirus can be fatal.
From 2014 to 2018, 16 cases of hantavirus were confirmed in Alberta residents. Of those cases, one was fatal. There have been two cases of hantavirus confirmed in Alberta this year.
Any Albertan who has recently been in an area contaminated by mice and subsequently develops flu-like symptoms or difficulty breathing are reminded to see a doctor immediately.
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.
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