The hantavirus, which causes the rare but serious lung disease known as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), is a virus that is found in the urine, saliva, or droppings of infected deer mice and some other wild rodents, including cotton rats, rice rats in the southeastern United States, the white-footed mouse, and the red-backed vole.
How typical is the hantavirus?
The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that since 1989, there have been 109 confirmed hantavirus cases and 27 deaths in Canada, with the first case occurring in 1989. Hantavirus was first discovered in Canada in 1994, but researchers were able to positively identify that there were at least 3 other cases occurring before 1994. (as of January 2015).
How can the hantavirus get inside of me?
Person-to-person transmission in North America has not been documented; however, a few cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in South America suggest person-to-person transmission. People can catch the hantavirus infection by inhaling respirable droplets of saliva or urine, by breathing in the dust of infected wild rodents, particularly the deer mouse, or by coming into contact with contaminated objects through cuts on their skin.
What effects does hantavirus have on my health?
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, which is more common in North America, and haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, which is more common in Europe and Asia, are the two main diseases caused by hantaviruses.
How is hantavirus pulmonary syndrome treated?
Infected individuals may be given medication for fever and pain and oxygen therapy, but there is no specific vaccination, treatment, or cure for hantavirus infection. However, early detection and medical care in an intensive care unit can aid with recovery.
Which professions are in danger?
The following activities have been linked to cases of hantavirus infection in Canada and the United States: sweeping out a barn and other ranch buildings; catching and studying mice; cleaning up wood waste in a sawmill with compressed air and dry sweeping; handling grain contaminated with mouse droppings and urine; entering a barn infested with mice; planting or harvesting field crops; occupying previously vacant homes; and disturbing rodent-infested areas.
How can hantavirus exposure be avoided?
By storing food (including pet food), water, and garbage in heavy plastic or metal containers with tight fitting lids, sealing any holes in structures where mice may enter, trimming back thick brush and keeping grass short, keeping woodpiles away from the building, and wearing rubber or plastic gloves when handling dead rodents or other materials, you can try to lessen the presence of mice and prevent contact with their droppings, urine, and saliva.
Where can I find further details?
Hantavirus. Public Health Agency of Canada Hantavirus. US Centers for Disease Control A Hantavirus Exposure Control Program for Employers and Workers. Worksafe BC. For more information on risk assessment and precautions for particular situations not clearly addressed by existing guidelines, contact specific agencies responsible for such detailed information, such as your local public health office."""