Jump to content

Home Inspectors Risk Exposure To Hanta Virus


Recommended Posts

The November 10th Seattle Post-Intelligencer carried an article about a 21-year old college student at Skagit Valley College who died the previous week from complications confirmed to have been caused by Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, a particularly deadly disease spread by common deer mice.

Concerned that home inspectors who routinely inspect rodent-infested attics and crawlspaces may be at particular risk of exposure and infection, TIJ contacted the Skagit County Public Health Department to learn more. Corinne Story, Public Health Nurse, informed TIJ that the State Health Department was still conducting a follow-up investigation to determine where the student, who died just days after being taken to the hospital suffering from diarrhea and vomiting, was exposed.

According to Story, hantavirus works very quickly. Anyone exposed can begin showing symptoms within a day and reach end stage disease within 5 days. There have been 25 reported cases of hantavirus in Washington State since 1994 - nine of which were fatal (Nationwide, the mortality rate for the virus is 40%). Once infected, there are no antibiotics or known cures. All a hospital can do is provide support while the disease runs its course.

Story recommends that anyone entering rural structures that have been closed up and unoccupied, such as camp cabins, barns or sub-structure areas - anywhere there is likely to be rodent infestation - wear at least a paper filter mask and gloves. Those who frequently inspect crawlspaces or attics should wear a respirator with P100 cartridges, surgical gloves and bag their coveralls until cleaned.

Story suggests home inspectors working in rural areas warn their clients to avoid dry sweeping floors or dusting furniture or shelves in structures which have been closed up. Instead, buildings should be aired out for at least an hour and then floors and surfaces damp mopped, sprayed or wiped down with bleach. (The Seattle P-I story recommended soaking rodent nests with a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water.)

Story confirmed that hantavirus can't be spread human-to-human and that in Washington State roughly 11% of deer mice tested carry the disease. She said that to her knowledge it has never been found in roof rats, Norway rats or field mice. Nonetheless, she advises extreme caution in any rodent-infested environment, and says that any inspector experiencing sudden onset of flue-like symptoms - chills and fever - accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea and shortness of break, should seek immediate medical attention.

Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Skagit County Public Health Department at 360-336-9380, or at theWashington State Department of Health.

Check out ourother news items or visit our forums.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...
Nonetheless, she advises extreme caution in any rodent-infested environment, and says that any inspector experiencing sudden onset of flue-like symptoms - chills and fever - accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea and shortness of break, should seek immediate medical attention.

I don't think I would need to be told to see medical attention if I had the above symptoms!

Does anyone know if the Hanta Virus is in all of the US or is it only in the Western states?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While the deer mouse is the primary carrier, it can be transmitted by other rodents as well.

From the CDC website:

"Which rodents are known to be carriers of hantavirus that cause HPS in humans?

In the United States, deer mice, cotton and rice rats (in the Southeast), and the white-footed mouse (in the Northeast), are the only known rodent carriers of hantaviruses causing HPS."

The carriers are located throughout the US. As of Feb 2006, there have been 416 cases of HPS in thirty states, most of them west of the Mississippi. There are a few cases in the northeast and middle atlantic states, but none reported yet in southeast.

More info from the CDC is here: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hant ... es/FAQ.htm

Edit: Doh! [:-paperba Looks like Mike and I were tracking down the same info at the same time!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...