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TheGermDoctor, Doctor
Category: Medical
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Experience:  17 years as a physician, Board Certified in both Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases
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How long does the hantavirus live in the environment I was

Resolved Question:

How long does the hantavirus live in the environment? I was moving a plastic tub of clothes in my garage and when I moved the first tub I found old dried mouse poop under it, no mouse poop was in the tub I was just wondering if I possibly came into contact with the hantavirus. I am 24 weeks pregnant as well and live in Western Colorado.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  TheGermDoctor replied 7 years ago.

Hello dm-


Hantavirus is thought to generally be able to persist for a variable time in the environment- depending on a number of conditions like humidity, temperature, sunlight and even the diet the rodent had. Indoors is certainly a higher risk than an outdoor exposure. At room temperature, virus is likely viable at least 2-3 days.

Overall infectious viral survival is somewhere from hours to a few days- so that you certainly would need an active and ongoing rodent infestation to become infected- not one from old mice/rats as you seem to be describing.


The infection is contracted from breathing in contaminated air- contaminated by rodent urine, droppings and saliva, or rarely from rodent bites or other indirect contact with droppings.


The incubation between infection and symptoms is generally 2-3 weeks but can be anywhere from 1-5 weeks. If you do develop symptoms like fever, muscle aches and shortness of breath, you should seek medical attention. Frankly I would suspect your risk of hantavirus here is quite low , however.


Good luck.


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Edited by TheGermDoctor on 10/14/2009 at 8:19 PM EST
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