The CDC advises taking the following steps:

-- Exclude rodents from cabins and camps by blocking holes and filling cracks.

-- Wash all dishes and utensils with hot soapy water, and store food in rodent-proof containers.

-- Make sure bedding, pillows and sleeping bags are clean, and launder them prior to use if they might have been contaminated by rodents.

-- Air out buildings for at least 30 minutes before you start cleaning, and wear rubber gloves. Spray all materials or surfaces, wetting thoroughly, where droppings and urine are suspected with a general purpose disinfectant. For large areas, use a 10 percent household laundry bleach solution (1 1/2 cups of bleach per gallon of water). Pick up the wet material with a damp towel, or gently sweep it into a dust pan. Following this, mop or wipe the area with disinfectant.

"Be especially careful with vacuum cleaners," Wolfgang said. "The dampened rodent droppings should be carefully picked up as described and not picked up with a vacuum cleaner, because this may aerosolize the virus and put you at greater risk."

Sleeping on the floor or near a wall that might have housed rodents is also a risk factor, Wolfgang cautioned. "Those areas should be thoroughly cleaned prior to sleeping with your face close to potentially contaminated surfaces," he said.

-- When finished cleaning, bury, burn or dispose of cleaning materials in a proper manner. Disinfect your gloves before removing them, and then wash your hands with soap and warm water.

"The symptoms of the disease are nonspecific and include fever, fatigue and muscle aches," Wolfgang said. "Patients also may experience headaches, dizziness, chills and abdominal problems. Symptoms may begin one to five weeks after exposure."

In later stages -- four to 10 days later -- patients experience coughing and shortness of breath, according to Wolfgang, who noted, "If symptoms occur, check with your physician and mention that you may have been exposed to rodent contamination."

For more information about the hantavirus or prevention methods, Wolfgang recommended the CDC's website on the hantavirus at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hanta/hps/.

"The disease is rare," he added. "But it is important that people are aware of the potential when they clean out cabins or hunting camps."