With the onset of cold weather, one of our desert nuisances, and a carrier of a significant hazard might be tempted to invade your building. The critter of concern is the deer mouse and the hazard is hantavirus. What can you do about it? Well, building custodians need to request assistance to ensure rodent entry points are sealed off permanently to ensure they are excluded. Contact Pest Control for assistance by entering a service order through DPW or calling service order desk 678×1116. Here is a little more information and a few more ideas on how to reduce this disease risk.
In October 2012, the Army Public Health Center conducted a Pest Management Assistance Visit to present information to White Sands Missile Range personnel concerning the risk associated with Hantavirus. Lectures and discussions on Hantavirus were presented to interested command, staff, health care providers, and occupational workers on the installation. Information included the origins and present status of Hantavirus in the United States, local impact on New Mexico and WSMR, surveillance techniques for rodents and their contaminants, and personal protection for occupational workers and cleanup personnel.
The risk of contracting the disease has been noted only as moderate. In the published APHC Technical Report No. 18-WFNo. S.0001613-12, the risk of an individual acquiring a Hantavirus infection on WSMR is moderate for the following reasons. Hantavirus was found in rodents on the installation in 1997 and 1998. The epicenter of the initial outbreak of Hantavirus in the United States in 1993 was located in the Four Corners Area which includes northwest New Mexico. To date, New Mexico records the highest number of human Hantavirus cases in the United States. The deer mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus, the reservoir and vector for Sin Nombre Virus, the disease agent which causes Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, is the most common rodent species on WSMR. The fact that deer mice are perodomestic, which means they readily live in buildings and structures occupied by humans, may result in accumulation of feces, urine, and nesting materials indoors.
A deer mouse can enter a building through openings under doors, around utility pipes entering buildings, or other entry points that are ¼-inch or greater. Mice can also invade conexes, milvans, vehicles, or other containers that have ¼-inch openings. Snap traps, glue boards, and poison bait are also effective at controlling mice, but droppings and urine may be left behind while trapping is ongoing. If entry points still remain, any trapping or baiting for mice will have limited success and not eliminate all contaminants from rodents which enter the building. As stated above, building custodians need to request assistance to ensure those entry points are sealed off permanently to ensure rodents are excluded properly and contact Pest Control for assistance.
Although the risk of contracting the disease is moderate, it can be serious if you do get it. One article states,
“The infection itself is quite virulent. It’s not simply a matter of detecting it early. There is no vaccine or cure. The treatment we have is primarily supportive. It has been shown that patients who present earlier in the illness tend to do better. But even patients who present early—their mortality rates are still very high.” From “What Caused the Yosemite Hantavirus Outbreak?,” Scientific American, Sept. 7, 2012, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/yosemite-hantavirus-outbreak/.
If exposed to hantavirus, symptoms may develop between 1 and 5 weeks after exposure to fresh urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents. Early symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups—thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders. There may also be headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. The most effective rodent control is exclusion from buildings and structures. Removal of rodent contamination from indoor areas will reduce the risk of personnel acquiring hantavirus infection. The level of contamination, the type of activity in the facility, and the type of personnel performing the cleanup operations will dictate the methods used and the personal protective measures to be taken. The goal of any cleanup operation is to remove rodent contaminants without exposing cleaning personnel to hantavirus-laden particles in the air or on their hands and bodies.
Army Public Health Center (Provisional), Technical Report No. 18-WFNo. S.0001613-12, 2013
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/index.html, 2012
New Mexico State University, http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_l/L-209/welcome.html, 2004
Armed Forces Pest Management Board, Technical Guide No. 41, Protection From Rodent-Borne Diseases with Special Emphasis On Occupational Exposure to Hantavirus, December 2013