December 20th, 2009 by BugGuy
Hantavirus or hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a virus contracted from rodents. With rodents starting to seek refuge inside, it’s something to be aware of. The Deer mouse is the primary carrier of the hantavirus in the United States but HPS can also be carried by cotton rats, rice rats and white-footed mice.
Since 2002 there have been over 300 known cases of HPS in California; unfortunately the virus proved fatal for almost 40%. As with many conditions, the prognosis of survival is much better when the virus is detected early on. HPS may stay dormant for one to five weeks before any symptoms appear; when the infected person starts to feel sick, the symptoms resemble those associated with the flu.
- Muscle aches
- Chills (only seen in about half the patients)
- Headaches (only seen in about half the patients)
After a period of up to 10 days, the infected person starts to develop respiratory problems including shortness of breath and/or coughing. At this point, it is imperative the infected person seeks medical attention.
As far as treatment goes, there is not a specific cure for the virus but oxygen therapy has been relatively successful in patients when the virus is diagnosed in the early stages. If you suspect hantavirus, be sure to tell your doctor you’ve been exposed to rodents.
HPS can be contracted through exposure to bedding, droppings, saliva or the urine. Aerosolization , according to Hypergrowth, creator of this blog, is one of the main ways to be exposed to HPS. In aerosolization, fine particles from the rodent (i.e. urine, droppings, saliva) carrying the virus are breathed in through the air; this provides an easy way for the virus to enter the body.
Because of aerosolization, it’s important to take some precautions when cleaning up after rodents. First off, do not sweep or vacuum the area. Completely soak the area in household cleaner or bleach mixture (1.5 cups of bleach with 1 gallon of water). After everything is wet, use a wet towel to pick up materials. Thoroughly disinfect the area again using a sponge and more household cleaner. Don’t forget to wear gloves and wash your hands after you remove the gloves.
Take care when cleaning up after rodents, and contact your local pest control company for some assistance if you’re concerned about exposure to HPS.