Rats, mice and other rodents may be cute and furry. They may be fairly innocuous and very rarely are they aggressive to humans. And hey, they’re just trying to survive like the rest of us right? Unfortunately, these furry visitors can carry a range of nasty diseases including, but not limited to Hantavirus. Here we’ll look at 10 situations when you’ll need to know about this serious infection of which all too few of us are aware…
What is Hantavirus?
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome or FPS is a rare but deadly disease carried by some rodents such as rats and mice. Outbreaks have occured all over the United States with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii. It is contracted when humans inhale droplets of saliva or urine from an infected rodent, when they are bitten by one or when they inhale the fecal dust of one of these rodents. Symptoms appear within 1-5 weeks of exposure and the disease is fatal in 40% of cases. To protect yourself, your home and your family you’ll need to educate yourself on Hantavirus when you come across these situations;
You keep pet rodents
This year hantavirus outbreaks occured in an in-home rattery. Thus, all rat owners would educate themselves on Hantaviruses. Once exposed rats can carry and shed the disease for life. It’s worth noting that they only affect the rice rat and the cotton rat. While roof rats, and Norway rats have been known to carry the virus there are no records of them transmitting it to humans.
You notice rodent droppings in your home
Rodent droppings can spread Hantavirus and so if you notice them you should contact a pest control expert straight away. You should also clean all surfaces with a disinfectant cleaner or a solution of bleach and water. This will kill the virus dead so that you can breathe easy.
You are bitten by a rodent in the wild or on your grounds
Rarely will a rodent bite a human without provocation, but if you are out in the park with friends or having a picnic and aren’t careful where you lean or put your hands there’s always the chance that you could pick up a rodent bite. Hantavirus can be transmitted from saliva through broken skin so it pays to be vigilant. Alert rodents to your presence and they’ll usually keep a respectful distance. If you’re having a picnic always pack hand sanitizer.
You work in areas where rodents may live
If you work in a farm, barn or other rural setting where mice or rats may live, especially at night, it behoves you to take extra precautions. Wear heavy gloves to guard against bites and a N95-rated Dust Mask.
You start to notice these symptoms
There is currently no vaccine for Hantavirus but it can be treated when caught early on. If you notice any of the following symptoms call your doctor or present to A&E as quickly as possible;
- Severe muscle aches
You find a dead mouse or rat in a trap
The Hantavirus can remain active even in dead mice and rats. Thus, if you find one in a trap, never handle it with bare hands. Always use protective gloves and sterilize them after handling dead rodents. A dust mask may also be a good idea.
You find rodent urine on your bedding or clothing
Rodent urine has a strong and musky odor. If you smell it on your bedding or on any clothes that you have left lying on the floor overnight, wash them immediately to reduce your risk of Hantavirus infection. Washing in hot water either by hand or in your washing machine using your usual detergent should be sufficient.
You have a woodpile near your house
A roaring log fire is a welcome addition to any home, but be wary that your woodpile may be home to rodents. Never handle logs with bare hands and keep woodpiles at least 100 feet away from your home with the wood raised 12” or more off the ground.
You make your own compost
Composting is a great, environmentally friendly way to fertilize your garden, but your compost pile can also be a banquet for rodents. Make sure that you compost in a designated bin which is kept at least 100 feet from the home.
You’re cleaning out your basement
Hantavirus can survive for less than a week outside of a host and just a few hours in direct sunlight. If, however you’re likely to be spending long periods of time in a dark place like your basement you may be susceptible to Hantavirus, especially if there’s evidence of a rodent infestation in your home.
Stay smart, stay safe and keep your home and your family free of Hantavirus!
AB Pest Control has many years of experience in rodent control. Feel free to contact us or leave a comment or question below.