Vermont Department of Health reminds residents to take precautions against hantavirus

The Vermont Department of Health reminded residents on Tuesday to use caution when cleaning rodent-infested areas after a human case of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome was recently reported in the state.

The patient, who was an out-of-state resident believed to be exposed to rodent droppings while cleaning a seasonal home in August, has since recovered from the disease.

The Department of Health recommended that if evidence of a rodent infestation is found, residents should air out the area by opening nearby windows for at least 30 minutes. They should spray the area with a mix of 10 parts water and one part bleach and let soak for at least five minutes rather than sweep or vacuum the droppings.

The droppings should then be cleaned with a mop using a bleach solution on hard surfaces or a steam cleaner on furniture or carpets. Any bedding or clothing that may be contaminated should also be washed with laundry detergent and hot water, according to the Department of Health.

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a serious respiratory disease caused by an infection with a certain strain of hantavirus. Symptoms include fever, muscle and headaches, dizziness and chills followed by coughing and shortness of breath. Approximately one third of patients die from the disease.