Hantavirus is spread by exposure to the droppings and saliva of deer mice, and is more common in the fall as mice begin to move indoors for the winter. (Courtesy CDC)

A hantavirus death last week in west-central Saskatchewan has the province warning people to be cautious about exposure to mice.

Hantavirus is the flu-like illness that comes from exposure to the saliva or droppings of deer mice. It begins with fever, muscle aches, coughing, headaches, nausea and vomiting, but in rare cases can lead to serious respiratory complications.

The government will not specify the deceased individual's age or gender or say specifically where the virus was contracted.

"We advise people to take precautions against hantavirus by avoiding contact with deer mice to every extent possible," said Saskatchewan's deputy chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, in a news release. "This is the time of the year when mice are moving indoors."

Specifically, the Ministry of Health is warning farmers, grain handlers, cottagers and homeowners to take avoid direct contact and breathing in air particles that may be contaminated when cleaning rodent-infested buildings.

There have been 21 known cases of hantavirus in Saskatchewan since 1994, including this year's death.