Alberta Health Services is warning Alberta residents to take precautions, after a case of a serious illness was confirmed in a person living in an area north of Edmonton.

AHS officials said a case of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome has been confirmed in a resident of a rural community located north of Edmonton, although officials would not release a specific location.

The confirmation has prompted health officials to issue a warning not only to residents of the immediate area, but to all Albertans, to carefully handle cleaning up rodent infestations and protect themselves.

"Because humans can be exposed to Hantavirus when the urine or feces of an infected rodent – such as a mouse – become airborne, anyone who disturbs areas of mice or mice droppings can be at risk," Dr. Marcia Johnson, Medical Officer of Health – Edmonton Zone, said in a press release. "It is essential that Albertans take precautions to protect themselves, and greatly reduce their risk of illness."

While Hantavirus infection is rare, AHS officials warn it can be fatal.

Symptoms typically show one to two weeks after exposure, but in some cases symptoms started to show up to five weeks after exposure.

Symptoms resemble a severe flu, including:

  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Abdominal problems
  • Severe Breathing problems

Precautions to prevent possibly coming in contact with the virus include properly cleaning up mouse droppings, nests, or dead mice – in the following way:

  • Ventilate the area by opening doors and windows – then stay out of the room or area for at least 30 minutes
  • While wearing rubber gloves, soak droppings, nests and dead mice with a bleach-water solution (one part bleach, nine parts water) or a household disinfectant
  • Let the bleach water solution or disinfectant soak for five minutes
  • Mop up, or pick up with paper towels the bleach-soaked droppings, nests or dead mice and place them in a plastic bag
  • Ensure the bag is sealed, and place in a garbage container with a tightly sealed lid
  • Wash the gloves, before removing them, and then wash your hands

Officials warn anyone cleaning up after mice should follow the above instructions, and never disturb droppings, nests or dead mice without soaking them in the solution first, and to not vacuum or sweep up after a mouse infestation.

AHS also said anyone dealing with a significant mouse infestation, or infestations in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation should contact Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-5465.

Dr. Johnson said anyone who has recently been in an area contaminated by mice, and later developed severe flu-like symptoms or difficulty breathing should seek medical attention immediately.