|Precautions urged after woman dies of hantavirus
May 12, 2005
EDMONTON – A woman from central Alberta has died
– and her daughter and another relative are in hospital – after contracting
hantavirus, health officials say. One person in hospital is listed in
serious condition, while the other is in stable condition. Doctors believe
the three were cleaning the garage about a week ago when they were exposed
to deer mouse droppings, which is how hantavirus is spread.
"There is a need for the public to take precautions when they are exposed
to mice or mouse droppings," deputy provincial health officer Dr. Karen
Grimsrud said, adding testing shows that there are infected mice in all
areas of the province. "You for sure don't want to sweep or vacuum the mouse
droppings. "By putting that virus into the air and breathing it in is how
you are infected. You need to dampen it with disinfectant, then either mop
it up or wipe it up with paper towels and dispose of the paper towels in
double bags, and seal them." Health officials also recommend wearing rubber
Grimsrud says the case is unusual because it involves three people, where
they typically see single infections. "They have a common exposure. We've
never had that before," she said. "We've had single cases, but not the
cluster of cases."
Hantavirus is a respiratory illness spread by infected deer mice through
their droppings, urine or saliva. It is most common in spring, when people
are outdoors or spring cleaning and breathe in the air-borne particles.
People first get flu-like symptoms, including fever and body aches, which
progress to breathing problems. Since 1989, there have been 31 cases of
hantavirus in Alberta, and nine deaths. The woman, who died Sunday, is the
first fatality since 2002.
Health officials are warning the public to dispose of mouse droppings
carefully, and to thoroughly clean areas where mice have been.
Reason for Concern
of March 2001, six people in Saskatchewan have been diagnosed with
Hantavirus infections. In Canada, 35 cases have been reported in total (14
deaths). Approximately one
quarter of the cases involved exposures on farms. Besides the Saskatchewan
cases, there have been six cases in British Columbia, two in Manitoba, and
21 in Alberta. In the United States 281 cases have been reported.
proportion of Saskatchewan deer mice tested had evidence of the disease.
Although the disease is rare, it is advisable to take common sense
precautions to prevent Hantavirus and other rodent-borne infections.
For more information from this source click here:
Trapped Rodents Test Positive For Hantavirus
Three rodents trapped in Redlands and Rialto, Calif., have tested positive
for the potentially deadly hantavirus, San Bernardino County public health
Virginia reports first hantavirus death
(July 17, 2004)
A Virginia Tech student died from
the hantavirus disease after conducting field studies of small mammals in West
Virginia, state health officials said Friday. The only other reported case of hantavirus in Virginia was in
1993. The person survived in that case, said Department of Health spokeswoman
Michaelle Stoll. "Our sympathy goes out to this man's family and colleagues at
such a difficult time," Health Commissioner Dr. Robert B. Stroube said in a
statement. "This is a very rare and unexpected event."
Jeffrey A. Kaminski, 32, a graduate student in Tech's Department
of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, died last week after being hospitalized for
pneumonia. Health officials believe he was most likely exposed to the virus
through extended contact with rodents. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a severe infection of the
respiratory system spread by rodent urine, feces or saliva. The virus can get in
the air as mist or dust when rodent droppings or nests are stirred up. People can get the infection by inhaling the virus or by
handling infected rodents. People, cats, dogs, farm animals and insects are not
known to transmit the disease.
There is no cure for the hantavirus. Infected people usually
have flu-like symptoms including fever, shortness of breath, chills and muscle
and body aches.
"Cases of hantavirus disease are rare, but people should always
take precautions when coming in contact with rodents," Stroube said. Kaminski enrolled at Tech in 2002. His research project on small
mammal community and population dynamics in a central Appalachian industrial
forest was almost complete.
Hantavirus: What is it?
(This information is copied with permission from the U.S.
Center for Disease Control literature.)
Small But Deadly Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) has been
recognized as a disease only recently in North America. So far, it's also fairly
uncommon and the chances of becoming infected are low. However, HPS is
potentially deadly and immediate intensive care is essential once symptoms
appear. Hantaviruses that cause HPS are carried by rodents, especially the deer
mouse. You can become infected by exposure to their droppings, and the flu-like
first signs of sickness (especially fever and muscle aches) appear one to six
weeks later, followed by shortness of breath and coughing. Once this phase
begins, the disease progresses rapidly, necessitating hospitalization and often
ventilation within 24 hours. Prevention is the best strategy, and it simply
means taking some very practical steps to minimize your contact with rodents.
HPS is not contagious from person-to-person in the United States.
Tips For Preventing Hantavirus Infection
Clean up infested areas, using safety precautions:
Wear a HEPA filter respirator.
Put on latex rubber gloves before cleaning up.
Don't stir up dust by sweeping up or vacuuming up droppings,
urine or nesting materials.
Instead, thoroughly wet contaminated areas with disinfectant to
deactivate the virus. A hypo chlorite solution prepared by mixing 1 and 1/2 cups
of household bleach in 1 gallon of water may be used in place of commercial
Once everything is wet, take up contaminated materials with a damp
towel, then mop or sponge the area with disinfectant.
Spray dead rodents with disinfectant, then double-bag along with
all cleaning materials and bury , burn or throw out in appropriate waste
Finally, disinfect gloves before taking them off then thoroughly
wash hands with soap and warm water.
When going into cabins or outbuildings (or work areas) that have
been closed for awhile, open them up and air out before cleaning.
should get help from a professional exterminator.
If your house or workplace is heavily infested with rodents