Recent diagnoses of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in campers in Yosemite National Park have brought national attention to the dangers of this respiratory disease carried by mice, which can be deadly to humans. Even though Yosemite is far from Colorado, the possibility of contracting HPS in Colorado is very real. In fact, as of July 2012, Colorado had the second highest number of cases of HPS of any state in the union, after New Mexico.* It was first found in the four corners region in 1993; since then, cases have been diagnosed in nearly every part of the state. Humans can become infected through direct contact with mice or their nests or droppings. To protect yourself against this often-fatal illness, be sure to visit the Colorado Dept. of Public Health & Environment’s HPS webpage, where you will find FAQs and an illustrated guide on how to safely clean up rodent droppings, dead rodents, and nests. The site also contains HPS information for health care professionals and maps and statistics on outbreaks. Remember, be safe – mice might be cute, but they can also be deadly.
Photo courtesy Colorado Dept. of Public Health & Environment