Mice Safety

Mice Safety

Mice Safety and Awareness and Safety Tips

Grand Teton National Park is home to a diverse population of mammals, including 38 small mammal species. The National Park Service wildlife list considers 5 small mammal species to be abundant in the park, including the Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus,a). Deer mice, being herbivores, play a vital role in linking plants and predators in the park's ecosystem providing an important food source for numerous species of other mammals and birds. Name a predator in the park and it probably eats Deer Mice. While not common, living and vacationing in Grand Teton National Park can provide opportunities for human-mice contact or exposure. Although mice provide important benefits to our ecosystem, they can also pose a health risk to humans through the transmission of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome or HPS.

While HPS is rare, people should avoid contact with mice. The virus is contracted due to breathing in dust contaminated with rodent droppings, urine or saliva, normally when large masses of feces and dried urine are disturbed. Most cases of HPS have occurred when people have cleaned out or lived in buildings that have been inhabited by large numbers of rodents for many years. HPS is not spread from human to human. While HPS can be fatal, early medical attention can greatly increase the chance of patient survival. Symptoms may develop one to five weeks after exposure with early universal symptoms being flu-like including fatigue, fever and muscle pain, especially in thighs, hips, back and shoulders. About half of HPS patients also experience headaches, dizziness, chills, abdominal problems such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Four to ten days after the initial phase of illness, the late symptoms of HPS appear. These include coughing and a sudden onset shortness of breath with rapidly evolving pulmonary edema. Symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pain, and shortness of breath are common to many different illnesses and are likely to be something other than HPS.

However, any concerns you have about your health or possible exposure to HPS should be discussed with your healthcare provider. While not all deer mice carry HPS and the virus is considered rare, we recommend all guests take the following precautions to prevent HPS infection and help protect themselves as well as future guests of the lodge:

  • Always keep your entrance doors closed.
  • Keep food in tightly sealed containers.
  • Minimize storage of luggage and other materials on floors.
  • Contact the Front Desk or Housekeeping if signs of mice are present.
  • Always sleep at least 12 inches above the ground.
  • Properly dispose of all trash.