Protecting Against Hantavirus

With the recent outbreak and deaths due to the Hantavirus at Yosemite National Park, it is important for food service plants to take extra precautions against deer mice, the main carrier of the virus. Deer mice are fairly common around facilities in Illinois and across the Midwest and, if infected, can release the Hantavirus in their droppings and urine.

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (McCloud Services) — With the recent outbreak and deaths due to the Hantavirus at Yosemite National Park, it is important for food service plants to take extra precautions against deer mice, the main carrier of the virus. Deer mice are fairly common around facilities in Illinois and across the Midwest and, if infected, can release the Hantavirus in their droppings and urine. Although normally an exterior rodent, deer mice can come indoors and food facilities may have to remove the mice and their droppings. The rodent-borne lung virus can be contracted when people breathe in contaminated air causing flu-like symptoms, difficulty breathing and in some cases, death.

To keep employees, products and facilities safe, food service plants should take the following steps to perform correct deer mouse fecal removal:

Step 1: Gather appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) including: neoprene, gloves, eye protection and respirator with HEPA filter. Gloves should be used for all dropping removal programs. Respirators are required when ventilation is poor and inhalation of dust is likely.

Step 2: Spray droppings with Lysol, Microsan SQ, bleach solution or similar disinfectant.

Step 3: For small quantities of droppings: sweep “sanitized” droppings into dustpan. Place droppings into sealable plastic bag. Discard in an exterior trash receptacle. For large quantities of droppings: use a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter to remove droppings. Remove vacuum bag after discard in exterior trash.

Step 4: Spray swept and vacuumed surfaces with another round of disinfectant.

**If the infestation is a house mouse and not a deer mouse, precautions should still be taken to avoid dispersing allergens or disease organisms that are associated with this species of mice. A vacuum with a HEPA filter should be used for vacuuming. Gloves are the minimum personal protective equipment to be used during clean-up.

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