During the warmer summer months is usually an excellent time to work on cleaning out storage spaces and outdoor sheds. However, if you are not careful, this seemingly harmless chore can expose you to an extremely infectious and dangerous disease known as hantavirus. Among our large lists of pests that we can eradicate, Border Pest Control in Las Cruces, New Mexico, specializes in the control of many varieties of mice, including the specific species that is known for carrying this unwanted disease. As with most diseases, especially life threatening ones, there are often a lot of questions and panic surrounding its details on contraction and treatment. We are here to set the record straight with this informative article, and always keep in mind that you can schedule an appointment with us if you feel like you have an infestation of the carriers of hantavirus.
What is hantavirus?
Hantavirus is an infectious disease that can cause flu-like symptoms and can potentially lead to life-threatening complications.
How do you get it?
The main route of transmission of hantavirus to humans, is through the inhalation of dust particles that have been infected. The infected particles come from an infected rodents’ droppings, urine or saliva. The deer mouse is the primary carrier of this disease, but it is important to note that there are several other species that can carry it as well including the rice rat, cotton rat, and white-tailed mouse. The disease is contracted through aerosolization, which occurs when a virus is kicked up into the air and is easier for humans to inhale. For example, this can happen while you are sweeping or cleaning areas that contain infected rodent droppings, and the particles get disturbed in the process.
What are the symptoms and how is it treated?
Shortly after contracting the disease, it usually causes flu like symptoms such as fever, chills, vomiting, headaches and muscle aches. In the later stages, between 4-10 days after exposure, the symptoms begin to increase in severity and can include shortness of breath, low blood pressure and fluid accumulating in your lungs. Hantavirus is not something that will go away on its own, and it requires immediate attention and sometimes hospitalization to stabilize breathing. If you suspect that you have the disease, you should seek immediate medical attention. Those with severe cases could be immediately put into intensive care, and will receive ongoing treatment to assist with breathing and stabilize blood oxygenation levels.
How can you avoid Hantavirus?
Since the disease exists on the excrement and bodily fluids from rodents with the virus, limiting your exposure to these is very critical to limiting your chances of contracting it. Tasks such as cleaning and sweeping areas with high dust levels, low air circulation, and evidence of rodents should be limited or avoided altogether. Jobs that involve exposure to rodents such as construction and utility work should be avoided without proper training and equipment. Any kind of cleaning in low traffic areas such as attics, sheds, and barns should be approached with caution.
If you find yourself in a situation where rodent infestation is evident, the proper way to clean up the droppings and urine is to spray it down with a strong disinfectant or bleach. Do not sweep it up while it is dry! While it is still wet from the disinfectant or bleach, wipe it up with a towel and dispose of it immediately. It is also advised to use a respirator during this entire process.
You can greatly reduce your risk of coming into contact with hantavirus by reducing the amount of rodent activity in general. Great practices to adopt to reduce their activity in your living areas include:
- Blocking small access holes that they might getting through.
- Making sure that all food is sealed and put away.
- Consistently cleaning dishes and food scraps up.
- Reduce the amount of nesting materials available- dead brush, grass, and other debris building up along the outside of the building.
- Set traps.
In addition to these practices, Border Pest Control in Las Cruces, New Mexico, is here to help ensure a safe environment for you and your family. Hantavirus exposure can be significantly higher in our dryer climate in the Southwest, but we can eradicate the problem and take care of the pests involved. If you suspect that you have some unwanted visitors like the rodents that carry this life threatening disease, don’t hesitate to call the experts!