Cases of hantavirus have been popping up throughout the world recently, including a woman in New Mexico who died last week from exposure to the virus. Four mice in San Diego County, California, tested positive for hantavirus in January, and although no humans fell ill from those SoCal critters, recent years have seen an uptick in hantavirus diagnoses. Yosemite National Park reported a cluster of cases in 2012, when 10 people were infected and three died from exposure to mice nesting in the walls of tent cabins. Last year, five people in Washington State were infected and three died, the state’s worst breakout of hantavirus in 18 years.
What is Hantavirus?
Hantaviruses are a group of viruses that are carried by rodents. The “Sin Nombre” form of the virus is found in Deer mice in North America and is the cause of most Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) cases in people.
How is Hantavirus contracted?
Deer mice excrete the virus in their urine, saliva and droppings. A person may be exposed to hantavirus by breathing contaminated dust after disturbing or cleaning up rodent droppings or nests; by getting contaminated dust into their eyes, mouth or nose; or by living and working in rodent-infested settings.
Pets, snakes and predators don’t become infected and can’t spread the hantavirus infection to people or other animals. In North America, there is no evidence that the disease (HPS) spreads from one person to another.
How common is this illness?
Four kinds of rodents are known to carry the virus, according to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), however only the Deer mouse is found in Washington State. Deer mice live in all parts of Washington but mainly in rural areas. In Washington, of more than 1,100 Deer mice tested, about 14% had the Sin Nombre form of the virus.
Since infected Deer mice live throughout the State, human cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome can occur in any part of Washington. Typically, one to five cases occur each year.
What should I do if I think I’ve contracted HPS?
If you have been exposed to rodents or rodent-infested buildings and have symptoms, then see your doctor immediately and tell them about your possible rodent exposure. Symptoms begin one to eight weeks after exposure to the virus. It typically starts with three to five days of flu-like symptoms, including fever, sore muscles, headaches, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. As the illness gets worse, it causes coughing and shortness of breath. People with HPS are usually hospitalized. About one out of three people diagnosed with HPS have died.
What should I do to prevent HPS?
Keeping rodents out of your home and workplace is a sound preventive measure against HPS and other rodent-borne pathogens. If you think you may have rodents in your home, then you should contact Eastside Exterminators right away for a rodent inspection.
Eastside Exterminators has been in business since 1969 and pioneered the four-step rodent inspection and exclusion process. Our team of highly trained, licensed professionals will conduct a 27-point inspection of your home. Our structural exclusion experts use top quality materials to create a long-lasting seal that will prevent rodents from gaining access. Trapping throughout the process removes any rodents living on the inside of the structure while the exclusion process takes place. Our ongoing Signature Service controls the outside population over time to reduce the pressure to gain entry into your home.
Call us today at (425) 482-2100 to schedule a rodent inspection, and protect your home.