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Education Materials and Media


Methods for Trapping and Sampling Small Mammals for Virologic Testing [PDF – 2 MB]

A Spanish version of the manual is available on the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) website.

This manual is intended as a guide for those persons performing ecologic and epidemiologic studies involving populations of rodents which are potentially infected with hantavirus. However, the procedures outlined are appropriate for any study of small-mammal populations that may harbor an infectious zoonotic agent capable of causing severe disease or death.

The manual covers the following major topics in detail: selection of appropriate collection sites; trapping methods that provide a representative sample of the rodent population; handling, operation, and placement of traps for small mammals; safe and humane techniques for trapping and handling rodents; selection of appropriate sample fluids and tissues and detailed methods for obtaining these samples; proper storage, packaging and shipment of specimens to the laboratory; effective decontamination and cleaning of traps and other materials; safe disposal of infectious wastes; and careful collection and recording of all pertinent data.

The manual is illustrated with black and white photos to assist the trainee in understanding these techniques. Sample forms are provided in appendices and can be adapted to specific programs by users.

It is our hope that the information contained in this manual will provide assistance to investigators involved in the collection and handling of small mammals and will facilitate surveillance efforts necessary to control and prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Warning: The manual’s text includes graphic photos of rodent necropsy procedures. These images may not be appropriate for viewing by children.

The protocols described herein have been approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Investigators conducting research involving live animals should have their research protocols approved by their institutional animal care and use committee and should conduct all such research in accordance with federal guidelines (NIH 1985), the federal Animal Welfare Act (P.L. 89-544, as amended by P.L. 91-579 and P.L. 94-279) and Endangered Species Act (P.L. 93-205), and other applicable state and local laws, regulations, or policies.

Update on specimen packing and shipping instructions

The manual contains information on packing and shipping specimens. However, updated information is available from two online sources:

cover of Methods for Trapping and Sampling Small Mammals for Virologic Testing manual



Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (July 2011)

  • Listen to this podcast (3:50)
  • Dr. Adam MacNeil, epidemiologist with Viral Special Pathogens Branch at CDC, discusses hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Created: 7/14/2011 by National Center for Emerging Zoonotic and Infectious Diseases (NCEZID). Date Released: 7/18/2011.

Of Mice and Man (January 2010)

  • Listen to this podcast: Long version (4:38) or Short version (0:59)
  • Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, or HPS, is a disease that is caused by people coming in contact with rodents. HPS is caught when dirt or dust containing rodent excretion or other bodily fluids is stirred up and breathed in or absorbed through broken skin. The result is a serious condition in which one of three reported cases has been fatal. In this podcast, Dr. Barbara Knust discusses HPS. Created: 1/14/2010 by MMWR. Date Released: 1/14/2010.


Cuando entran los ratones

  • Listen to this podcast (1:21)
  • El síndrome pulmonar por hantavirus o SPH es causado por virus presentes en las excreciones u otros líquidos corporales de los roedores que pueden introducirse al cuerpo humano por la respiración o a través de la piel abierta. El resultado es una enfermedad grave en la cual uno de tres casos reportados suele ser mortal. Este podcast indica los signos y síntomas iniciales del síndrome pulmonar por hantavirus y da consejos sobre qué hacer para evitar la exposición. Created: 1/14/2010 by MMWR. Date Released: 3/15/2011.

The Prevention of Hantavirus Disease Post-It Card

Post it on your refrigerator! Nail it up in your shed or barn! Give a copy to your friends and neighbors!

This handy card has quick tips and pictures so you’ll always remember how to rodent-proof your home or clean up if you find rodents. It’s available in both English and Spanish versions.

Common household disinfectants can be used to substitute for bleach solution when spraying down areas infested by rodents. If you’re worried that the surface to be sprayed will stain or discolor, detergent — not plain soap — can be used instead.

The prevention card is provided here courtesy of the the New Mexico State Department of Health and New Mexico State University. Our thanks and appreciation to these institutions and to Mike Barnes, Robin Crabtree, and Leigh Ford.

Prevention of Hantavirus Disease post-it cards