Hantavirus is an infection transmitted to humans from rodents, primarily through inhalation of dust particles containing dried rodent urine or feces.
Approximately 5 to 20 percent of people exposed to the virus actually become sick.
Those exposed often report onset of sudden, intense headache and flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills and muscle aches. The severity of the disease can vary from mild illness to death.
From November 2011 to February 2012, Germany had 349 cases of Hantavirus. Baden-Württemberg accounted for 222 (64 percent) of the cases.
So, how do you prevent Hantavirus? The best prevention is by avoiding exposure to rodents and their excrement.
• Prompt removal of trash and clutter reduction will help deter rodents.
• Keep grass cut and hedges away from buildings.
• If you have firewood stacked a home, store it away from the house.
• Avoid dusty sheds or attics that may have a rodent nest. If you do clean these areas, moisten the dusty surfaces with water containing a mild detergent and household sanitizers. Household bleach (1.5 cups to 1 gallon of water) can be used to sanitize. Wear gloves and avoid splashing the mixture in your eyes or on your skin. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after cleaning.
Anyone developing flu-like symptoms after entering a dusty building or after handling a dead rodent should seek medical attention immediately.
For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov.