1 infected with mouse virus in Vermont

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Department of Health is warning residents to be cautious when cleaning up rodent-infested areas after someone came down with a potentially deadly virus carried by deer mice.

The person who became sick with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome was likely exposed to rodent droppings while cleaning up a summer home in August and has since recovered.

The Health Department said Tuesday that most infections happen in the western United State but the Northeast has had sporadic cases, including one in Vermont in 2000.

Most people contract the disease by breathing in dust contaminated with rodent droppings, urine, saliva or nesting materials. Symptom include fatigue, fever, headaches, muscle aches, dizziness followed by coughing and shortness of breath, health officials said. The virus kills about one-third of those infected.

To avoid getting sick, prevent rodents from entering your home by sealing up holes inside and outside of the house, setting traps and properly store food, the Health Department said.

People should be especially careful when opening a seasonal home. If there's evidence of a rodent infestation, the Health Department recommends opening windows for at least 30 minutes to air out the area. Don't vacuum or sweep droppings; spray the area with a mixture of one part bleach to 10 parts water and let it soak for five minutes before cleaning it up with paper towels while wearing latex gloves, the department said. Hard surfaces that may have been contaminated should also be cleaned with the diluted bleach mixture and bedding and clothing should be washed with laundry detergent.

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