There are many diseases out there that place humans at risk and the Hantavirus is one of them. Also known as HPS, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, this severe and sometimes fatal disease attacks the respiratory system of humans and is transmitted through rodents. Anyone that comes into contact with rodents that carry this disease are at risk.
- Should I Be Concerned About Getting The Hantavirus
- What Are The Signs And Symptoms
- How Do I Know If I Should Get Treated
- Tips To Prevent Hantavirus Exposure
Should I Be Concerned About Getting The Hantavirus
There is more than one strain of the Hantavirus that is known to infect and cause severe illness in humans. Depending upon where you live will determine which strain is likely to infect the rodents in your area. Cotton rats, for example, are more common in the Southeastern states of the U.S. and are known to carry the Black Creek Hantavirus while the white footed mouse is associated with the Northeastern states which carry the New York Hantavirus. Deer mice are particularly known for carrying the virus as they are more spread throughout the United States making the Sin Nombre Hantavirus responsible for the majority of Hantavirus infection cases.
Most rodents are seen in forested areas, fields and farms that provide a suitable habitat for these rodents. Houses, barns and sheds also make for a suitable habitat as rodents like to hide during the day and scavenge during the nighttime hours. With rodents living closer to humans this puts anyone at risk of exposure. Even the healthiest of people can still contract HPS.
Rodents leave behind trails of their urine, saliva and rodent droppings which can be stirred up and transmitted via the air. A rodent bite can also transmit the virus but it is more common through airborne transmission. Some research even suggests that the virus can be transmitted through contact with anything that is contaminated by what the rodents leave behind and then that person touching their oral and/or nasal passageways. One thing is certain, however, the Hantavirus that causes human illness in the U.S. is not transmittable from one person to the other.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms
Symptoms of the hantavirus are known to develop anywhere between 1-8 week after exposure to fresh urine, saliva, and/or dropping of infected rodents. Earlier symptoms may include muscle aches, fever, fatigue, headaches, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness and/or abdominal pain. About half of the people diagnosed with HPS say they have experienced these symptoms. Later symptoms can include shortness of breath, coughing, tightness in the chest and/or difficulty breathing. Everyone will show a different reaction to the virus as well as different incubation times but what is important is if you suspect you have come into contact with an infected rodent, you call your physician as this disease has a 38% mortality rate.
How Do I Know If I Should Get Treated
Let’s be clear. If there is any concern that you may have this virus it’s always better to be safe than sorry. A lot of the symptoms with this virus are universal with many other illnesses like influenza, but a general rule of thumb: if you know you have been exposed to rodents and have any of the symptoms it is a good idea to go see your doctor and let them know about any rodent exposure. There is not a cure or vaccine for the hantavirus but seeing a doctor and being treated early on will certainly help. Often, what is seen, is patients receiving oxygen therapy to help them through any respiratory distress they may be having. This method of treatment is more likely to be effective when a patient is brought in at the beginning stages of HPS versus farther down the road.
Tips To Prevent Hantavirus Exposure
The best way to prevent Hantavirus exposure is to ensure that you don’t come into contact with rodents. For the most part, the average person is not going to come into contact with any unless their home or business has an infestation. Infestations increase the risk factor as the rodents excrement and bodily fluids are what spreads the disease. Ensuring that your home or workspace is safe from potential rodent infestations is where you want to start.
Clearing away yard debri and bushes that surround your home, sealing up any holes that can visibly be seen around the exterior of your structure and clearing any overhanging branches from the rooftop are all ways to keep rodents from viewing your home or building as a good place to camp. Of course, you will also want to make sure that there is not garbage surrounding your building and sealing any containers in sheds or garages that may hold food or nesting materials that rodents would be attracted to. The idea is that you are preventing your space from being attractive to rodents. Rodents are always looking for a place to feed and nest all while staying clear of humans. The last thing they want is to be seen and for the most part they go unnoticed because they are nocturnal but once they find a place to reside and take over it soon becomes apparent that you have a rodent infestation on your hands.
If this is the case for you, a professional rodent pest control company will need to be contacted as they are aware of all the safety measures that need to be performed in getting rid of a rodent infestation. Dealing with a rodent infestation on your own could place you at risk of coming into contact with the Hantavirus.
Whether you think you have rodent infestation on your hands or not, making sure that your home or office is not an attractant for these critters is always a safe practice measure. Those who have been diagnosed with HPS have not always reported seeing rodent droppings so if you know that you live in an area that is prone to rodents like the city or open land, it is a benefit to you to practice preventative measures so you can decrease your risk of exposure to the Hantavirus.