Tips on how to prevent Hantavirus | Health
How often do you think about Hantavirus? Maybe not that often. Here’s a statistic for you, there have only been 44 cases in Washington since 1993. That’s about two cases a year on average, but the state’s Department of Health say between one and five cases are reported each year mostly in Eastern Washington. Only a third of those cases were fatal.
WSU News just sent out a great story about Hantavirus that contains a lot of good information to prevent it with tips and all that jazz.
The greatest risk for Hantavirus comes from entering sheds and closed-in structure with poor air circulation, especially if that structure is home to deer mice harboring the virus. People become sick when they breathe in the dust stirred up from the mouse’s dried saliva, droppings or urine.
When people become infected, it takes one to five weeks for symptoms to develop. Once symptoms like muscle aches, fatigue and fever start, the infection allows fluid to leak into lungs and it becomes a struggle to breathe. If people suspect they’ve been exposed, a blood test can confirm before they move into a more critical stage.
Hantavirus becomes a bigger concern during the dry spell following rain. Wet weather improves vegetation, the food source for mice, which helps produce more babies. Then when it’s dry, the areas infested with infected deer mice get stirred up.
Here’s the tips we mentioned earlier compliments of WSU and the Department of Health. It’s probably just easier to copy and paste it over for you so we don’t risk diluting the message by rewriting.
- Keep rodents out of your home and workplace and take precautions when cleaning, sealing and trapping in rodent-infested areas.
- Seal up cracks and gaps larger than 1/4 inch in buildings and shelters. This should include window and door sills, underneath sinks and around the pipes, foundations, attics and any rodent entry hole.
- Trap indoor rats and mice with snap traps.
- Remove rodent food sources. Keep food (including pet food) in rodent-proof containers.
To clean up rodent infested areas:
- Wear rubber, latex, vinyl or nitrile gloves and a mask that covers the nose and mouth.
- Do not stir up dust by vacuuming or sweeping. This increases the chance of making the hantavirus airborne and easier to inhale.
- Soak contaminated areas - including trapped mice, droppings and nests - with a mixture of one part bleach to nine parts water for 10 minutes. Remove with a damp towel and mop or sponge the area with bleach solution. Steam clean or shampoo upholstered furniture and carpets with evidence of rodent exposure, such as mouse droppings.
- Spray dead rodents with disinfectant and then double-bag along with all cleaning materials. Bury, burn or throw out in appropriate waste disposal system.
- Disinfect gloves with disinfectant or soap and water before taking them off.
- Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.