Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (also referred to as HPS) is a rare syndrome caused by a group of viruses known as hantaviruses. This group of viruses is commonly carried by rodents and only specific species of rodents are known to carry the virus and transmit it to people. Deer mice, white-footed mice, rice rats, and cotton rats are the documented carriers of the disease in North America.
How Is HPS Contracted?
This virus is located in the droppings and urine of infected animals. People contract HPS when droppings and urine are stirred up into the air. This normally occurs when entering a space that has been closed up for a long period of time or when trying to clean up the mess the rodents have left behind. It can also be transmitted when people touch the urine or droppings and then proceed to touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. It is also possible to contract it after being bit by an infected rat or mouse.
Who Is At Risk?
Anyone can catch this virus. A person doesn’t need to have a compromised immune system to be susceptible. Healthy people have come down with this virus after contact with infected materials, droppings, or urine. Everyone has to take the proper precautions when they are in an area where rodents have been or are believed to be living.
What Are The Symptoms?
The incubation period of this virus can vary anywhere from 1 to 5 weeks, depending on the person and the severity of the infection. Once the virus has taken hold, symptoms such as fatigue, muscle aches, fever, shortness of breath, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Because this is a virus, only the symptoms can be treated as there is no proven treatment for the virus itself.
How Can People Prevent Getting Sick?
It is impossible to tell what type of mice or rats have made their way inside. The safest bet is to treat all droppings, urine, and nesting materials as they may be infected with the virus. Proper cleaning procedures should be observed when cleaning up the mess the rodents have left behind. These procedures include gloves, disinfectant or a bleach/water mixture, and proper disposal of cleaning materials.
The best way to prevent getting sick is by preventing the rodents from getting into the house in the first place. A great way to do this is to employ the services of a professional because they are going to be able to locate possible entry points and give tips on ways to limit food sources for them to gain access to.
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