Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is an infectious disease caused by a virus that can be fatal to humans. Rodents such as the white-footed deer mouse found in Washoe County spread it to people. The droppings and urine of infected mice contain the virus particles which cause infection in humans after being inhaled.
The Vector-Borne Disease Prevention Program (VBDPP) traps deer mice and other rodents near residential areas in Washoe County and tests them for hantavirus. Rodent surveys for hantavirus have been completed in Cold Springs, Silver Knolls, Caughlin Ranch Parkway, Spanish Springs, and Galena Creek Park. These surveys allow our Program staff to determine the continuing levels of hantavirus in area rodents in different areas and to make appropriate recommendations to residents to prevent illness. The average rate of infection for hantavirus in deer mouse populations in the area is about 15%, although this figure fluctuates greatly and may vary up or down in any given area at any given time. Test results have shown as low as 5% or as high as 50% of the rodents trapped testing positive for hantavirus.
VBDPP staff will discuss rodent removal and proper methods of cleaning to prevent human illness with County residents. A CDC brochure outlining rodent prevention and proper cleaning procedures is also available.