On June 14, 1993, the CDC identified the deer mouse, found throughout North America, as the primary carrier. Deer mice shed the virus in their saliva, urine, and droppings. Deer mice are the primary carriers of a particular strain of hantavirus that causes respiratory illness in humans, according to the ministry. Hantavirus is a disease carried by a variety of small rodents and passed to humans through urine, feces, and saliva. Anyone who disturbs areas of mice or mice droppings can be at risk. In Canada, the majority of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome cases occur in the western provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and the primary cause of the illness is the Sin Nombre virus. The virus is mainly transmitted to people when they breathe in air contaminated with the virus.

Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry Hantavirus is at risk for infection. Deer mice are the principal reservoir of one of these viruses called Sin Nombre virus, which causes Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) in people. In the United States, deer mice (along with cotton rats and rice rats in the southeastern states and the white-footed mouse in the Northeast) are reservoirs of the hantaviruses. Hantavirus infection in North America is a rare but serious illness. The rodents shed the virus in their urine, droppings, and saliva. The deer mouse is found throughout North America, preferring woodlands, but also appearing in desert areas.

There has been much fear over this this disease, often irtrational fear. Hantavirus in Deer Mice . How Common is Hantavirus in Mice? Deer mice are brown on top and white underneath and have large ears. Deer mice are the most common mammal in North America and still the infection rate is about 35 cases a year in the United States.

Though it is passively borne by the mice and rats who carry it, and though human infection is relatively rare, once humans become infected it can turn into Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) which, sadly, is often fatal. Deer Mouse Habitat in North America The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health says deer mice are the primary carriers of hantavirus and the risk of contracting infection increases as the weather warms up. All previous cases of hantavirus were spread by rodents, so researchers began trapping and examining as many rodent species as possible in the Four Corners area. The most important hantavirus in the United States that can cause HPS is the Sin Nombre virus, spread by the deer mouse.

Rodents in the United States that Carry Hantavirus Reported Cases of Hantavirus Disease

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