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Hantavirus precautions start with residents: Sask. Health Ministry

As the weather warms up, the Ministry of Health is reminding farmers and residents of Lloydminster and surrounding areas to take precautions against hantavirus. The virus is common in deer mice and can be contracted by breathing in air particles from their urine, saliva, and droppings.

In a statement, the government says the risk of catching the virus is low in Saskatchewan, but recommend residents take precautions due to the presence of deer mice in the province. It says exposure to the virus is most common when people are cleaning enclosed buildings such as grain bins, sheds, and barns or farm equipment and vehicles after winter.

The Ministry of Health says precautions while cleaning infested areas include adding ventilation to the building, opening doors and windows prior to cleaning and to wear protective equipment such as rubber or plastic gloves, a mask and goggles. Dry cleaning methods such as dusting and vacuuming are also not recommended. Instead, use a mop and to disinfect the area with bleach.

Residents may reduce rodent infestation by blocking any openings allowing rodents,  move woodpiles and other potential hiding places away from your home, and make sure food is tightly contained.

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The government of Saskatchewan says symptoms usually start within one to six weeks of exposure and include fever, muscle aches, cough, headaches, nausea and vomiting.  Some people may develop severe symptoms that can be life-threatening.  Seek medical attention immediately if you have a cough, fever and shortness of breath.

Saskatchewan says according to results from the end of last year, only  32 people with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome were reported in Saskatchewan since 1994.

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