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Latest News          What is Hantavirus               Tips for preventing Hantavirus infection

Precautions urged after woman dies of hantavirus                          May 12, 2005

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 gloves.

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   
           As 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.

A 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. minilogosm.gif (1102 bytes)

                                                                                              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 officials said.    

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 disinfectant. 

  • 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 disposal system.

  • 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.

  • If your house or workplace is heavily infested with rodents  you should get help from a professional exterminator.



A hantavirus risk control program for employers and workers.


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