Hantavirus can be found in the urine, droppings and saliva of certain rodents. The best way to prevent hantavirus infections is to eliminate or minimize contact with rodents:
seal up holes in your home or camp site to prevent rodents from entering
trap mice around your living space to reduce the population
store food securely and properly
reduce any potential nesting sites inside and around your home.
People most often get infected with hantavirus by breathing in tiny droplets that contain the virus. These droplets can get into the air when rodent droppings, urine or nesting materials are stirred up by human activity.
People may also get infected with hantavirus through the bite of an infected rodent, by eating food that has been contaminated with rodent urine, droppings or saliva, or by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus then touching their mouth or nose.
Hantavirus in Vermont
In Vermont, there are two species of rodents that are capable of carrying hantavirus: the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) and the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) While these mice are common throughout the state, hantavirus is an uncommon disease in Vermont. Since 1993, only two cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in Vermonters have been reported to the Health Department. In 2014 one out-of-state resident was infected with hantavirus while staying in Vermont and became ill after returning to their home state.