Where hantavirus-carrying deer mice might be found and how to clean up after them.

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The deer mouse might be cutest among our problematic rodents.

The tiny creature sports big eyes, large ears and a white underbelly.

But, it can be deadly, too. The tiny rodent is known to carry hantavirus, a rare, often fatal disease.

Deer mice excrete hantavirus in urine, saliva and droppings, according to the Washington Department of Health (DOH). People most commonly contract the virus when those materials are stirred up and the virus becomes airborne.

Typically, that happens during a rodent infestation, or when droppings are cleaned or disturbed in closed spaces, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Deer mice are found throughout Washington and much of North America. They prefer to live in woodland areas, but are found in the desert, too.

They primarily live in rural areas, according to the DOH. Barns, sheds and cabins are a common place to find deer mice, according to the CDC.

When cleaning after rodents, the CDC suggests taking precautions:

• Don’t vacuum

• Air out enclosed spaces

• Wear gloves

• Soak affected area with disinfectant and water

• Use paper towels to wipe down affected areas, then disinfect again

• Disinfect gloves

• Wash your hands with soap and warm water once cleaning is done