How clean is your deer camp? When was the last time you were there? There have recently been reported cases of the hantavirus, a serious, acute lung disease that causes the lungs to fill with fluid. There have only been a few recorded cases since 1993 where there were several people infected in the Four Corners area shared by New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. The most recent cases were seen this summer (2012) in California’s Yosemite National Park that infected a total of 12 people with 3 resulting in death. Several species of rodents, like the deer mouse and white-footed mouse, have been known to carry the hantavirus.
This virus is found in rodent droppings, urine, or even nesting materials. It can enter the lungs through contaminated dust, so be careful when sweeping up that cabin or any other actions that would kick up dust. Some simple precautions are:
1) Allow any buildings to air out for at least 30 minutes before cleaning.
2) Wear rubber gloves when cleaning.
3) Spray areas where droppings and urine are suspected thoroughly with a general purpose disinfectant.
4) Seal up any holes or cracks where small rodents would be able to enter the home.
5) Rewash all dishes and eating utensils with hot, soapy water before using.
6) Store food in rodent proof containers and throw out any food that was possibly contaminated.
7) Clean all bedding, pillows, and sleeping bags before using.
8) DO NOT VACUUM UP RODENT DROPPINGS – the vacuum may assist the virus in becoming airborne.
Be cautious when sleeping on the floor or near a wall as well. Make sure the area you are about to sleep in has been cleaned appropriately.
Symptoms of this virus are similar to the common flu. Fever, fatigue, and muscle aches are commonly experienced, along with other possible symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems. If these symptoms persist, be sure to check with your physician and mention that you possibly were exposed to rodent contamination.