With temperatures slowly on the rise and spring cleaning on some minds - health officials in Saskatchewan are warning people to take precautions.

Springtime is normally when the sometimes fatal hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) has been known to strike.

Dr. Denise Werker, deputy chief medical health officer with the ministry of health, said that Saskatchewan has one of the highest rates of the disease 

"In fact in Saskatchewan were are disproportionally affected by this disease because of our rodent population, but also because of the activities that people do," she said. "We're rural based population and people are in the habitats where mice can be found."

The rare lung illness can be contracted by coming into close contact with subject matter (droppings, urine, or saliva) left behind by infected deer mice.

"When people disturb the feces or the urine there are aerosolization of particles and those particles can be breathed in or get in through your eyes or in through your mouth and cause an infection," Werker explained.

Since 1994 - 31 cases of the virus have been reported in Saskatchewan representing roughly 36 per cent of Canada's total confirmed cases during that time.

While there is no cure for the illness, Werker advises people who do experience symptoms such as a fever, muscle aches, cough, headaches, nausea, and vomiting within one to six weeks of cleaning an area where rodents have been to go to the hospital immediately.

"The treatment is really to support your capacity for your breathing and for your heart to keep functioning," she said. "What happens is the whole body can go into shock and your normal functions basically stop working."

The national average of fatalities due to the illness in the last 20 plus year range from 30-50 per cent, with Saskatchewan on the lower end around 30 per cent.

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