Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 09-05-2012, 11:12 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,706
Help allay my fears about hantavirus

So, to preface, I've become a bit of a hypochondriac since my mother passed away relatively young from cancer 4 years ago.

Recently, there has been a lot of news about hantavirus exposure out in Yosemite Park, but apparently rodents all over the US are potential carriers of the virus.

This past weekend I attended a camping event through Living Social at a summer camp up in the Poconos. The cabin I was put in contained a few clusters of mouse feces. Fortunately I had heard about the virus before I took this trip, so I was very cautious of every surface that had a little mouse turd or two. One was at the foot of the mattress I ended up putting my sleeping bag on (I pushed it off onto the floor with a little box of bug repellant wipes), and there were two more on the corner of my end table / dresser. Late on the first night, some of my cabin mates saw a mouse in the bathroom. On the last day of the weekend, I saw this mouse myself and it certainly looked like what all the Google image results for "deer mouse" look like, so that sufficiently spooked me before I left.

Now, the logical part of my brain tries to calm me about this. I made no physical contact (that I'm aware of) with any fecal matter. I did no sweeping. Everything that I kept on that end table / dresser was promptly thrown in the trash before I left for home, and upon arriving at home, I sprayed down my sleeping bag and duffel bag with Lysol before taking them out of my trunk. The clothes went straight into the wash, the duffel bag got another coating of Lysol inside and out, the pillow I had taken with me was thrown right in the trash, along with the sandals I had worn that weekend (overkill perhaps, but like I said, I've suffered lots of anxiety since my mother's passing).

Add to that the fact that this was a summer camp for young teens a few weeks before this event was hosted, and there have been no news stories about 2 dozen teen girls contracting hantavirus from their summer camp. Also, I may have been the only one in that cabin with any awareness that this virus even exists, so I was the only one who took necessary precautions (my bunkmates were storing food on shelves and out in the open).

But what really alarms me is why there is not more awareness about this disease. My parents used to tell me that when they were children, they used to break open thermometers to play with the mercury, but in this day and age, a broken mercury thermometer would close an elementary school and require a hazmat team to perform a cleanup. So how is it that this potentially devastating virus hasn't warranted public service announcements about the dangers of rodents? All of my bunkmates upon seeing the mouse (well, the ones who weren't freaked out by the sight of a mouse) reacted with "aww, it's just a little mouse."

I myself was only aware of the existence of the hantavirus from two sources before the Yosemite outbreak: a mention in the movie Outbreak, and from a documentary called "Hard Times: Lost on Long Island" where it is mentioned that a man tragically died from contracting hantavirus while cleaning his basement to prepare selling his house.

Now, in Outbreak they had mentioned the southwest US, and it made sense that a potentially deadly virus could originate from someplace like Mexico, where there are areas that lack strict sanitation. But a middle aged man contracting a lethal virus from cleaning? His basement? That was when I first started doing a little research and found out about the dangers of mouse feces.

Anyway, I was hoping anyone with a little more expertise could maybe talk me off this ledge, since right now I'm basically feeling like I will be riddled with anxiety for the next 6 weeks as I wait to see if I get sick. I can't help but regret not immediately asking for placement in another bunk, or warning my fellow bunkmates, for fear of coming across like a Debbie Downer, so instead I said nothing, and as such may have allowed others to be put in danger as well...
#2
Old 09-06-2012, 12:29 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: on your last raw nerve
Posts: 18,051
Too long, didn't read!

No one with hantavirus could type that much. You don't have it.

Feel better?
#3
Old 09-06-2012, 06:38 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Eastern Connecticut
Posts: 16,446
And maybe make an appointment with shrink about your serious hypochondria.

Really, unless you have impaired immune system issues, random contact with mice is probably not going to automatically result in a bout of hantavirus. Heck, if that were true, pretty much every rural liver in the country would spend quality hospital time every year. [you would be amazed at how prevalent mice are everywhere, not just in a campground. You really don't want to see what goes on in a food warehouse. Trust me.]

You went way overboard, and wasted a fair amount of time and effort decontaminating, it isn't like you were visiting a plague colony. Simple precautions of washing stuff normally would have been quite fine. The Stand-quality decontamination is absurd. If it was that easy to get, I would put myself at risk every time I go out to toss some feed at the chickens.
#4
Old 09-06-2012, 07:08 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Female in Kansas
Posts: 6,953
Have you read what the CDC has to say about Hantavirus?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CDC
How Humans Become Infected with HPS


In the United States, deer mice (along with cotton rats and rice rats in the southeastern states and the white-footed mouse in the Northeast) are the reservoir of the virus. The rodents shed the virus in their urine, droppings, and saliva. The virus is mainly transmitted to people when they breathe in air contaminated with the virus.

When fresh rodent urine, droppings, or nesting materials are stirred up, tiny droplets containing the virus get into the air. This process is known as "airborne transmission".

There are several other ways rodents may spread hantavirus to people:

If a rodent with the virus bites someone, the virus may be spread to that person, but this type of transmission is rare.
Researchers believe that people may be able to get the virus if they touch something that has been contaminated with rodent urine, droppings, or saliva, and then touch their nose or mouth.
Researchers also suspect people can become sick if they eat food contaminated by urine, droppings, or saliva from an infected rodent.

The types of hantavirus that cause HPS in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another. For example, you cannot get the virus from touching or kissing a person who has HPS or from a health care worker who has treated someone with the disease. You also cannot get the virus from a blood transfusion in which the blood came from a person who became ill with HPS and survived.

Last edited by Zabali_Clawbane; 09-06-2012 at 07:10 AM. Reason: Added quote.
#5
Old 09-06-2012, 07:46 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Suburbs of Chicagoland
Posts: 22,337
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zabali_Clawbane View Post
Have you read what the CDC has to say about Hantavirus?
Are you trying to reassure him or encourage his fears? I can't quite tell.

This CDC link about the very small number of cases would have been better - only 587 cases in the US between 1993-2011, or about 32 cases per year. I'd worry far, far, far more about being hit by a bus.
#6
Old 09-06-2012, 07:55 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Female in Kansas
Posts: 6,953
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferret Herder View Post
Are you trying to reassure him or encourage his fears? I can't quite tell.

This CDC link about the very small number of cases would have been better - only 587 cases in the US between 1993-2011, or about 32 cases per year. I'd worry far, far, far more about being hit by a bus.
I am giving him a good source of facts, so he can go and read up, learn, and know what to do for next time he camps or hikes. (Edit: You don't have to throw things out, for example. Cleaning them works. But wear a mask while cleaning up droppings/urine!)

Last edited by Zabali_Clawbane; 09-06-2012 at 07:59 AM.
#7
Old 09-06-2012, 08:00 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Suburbs of Chicagoland
Posts: 22,337
The "preventing hantavirus" section isn't terribly useful in that respect. It boils down to "get rid of mice and clean up their waste, but plenty of people have got it who never saw any sign of mice."

Edit: OK, missed your edit about cleaning - you'd cited infection information and I was pretty sure he'd mentioned that in the OP.

Last edited by Ferret Herder; 09-06-2012 at 08:02 AM.
#8
Old 09-06-2012, 08:14 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Sweet Home Chicago
Posts: 33,496
Honestly, your fears lead you to increase your risk of exposure, not decrease it. This virus doesn't float around in that air UNTIL you disrupt the feces. Pushing feces off beds and shelves can cause the virus to go airborne, if it was there, which it probably wasn't.

I'd use a baby wipe (what, doesn't everyone bring baby wipes camping?) and pick up the feces, wrap it and place it in the trash.

But yes, what you really need to do is to see a trained mental health professional who can help you deal with your anxiety and fears. There are many techniques, but none of them work real well over a message board of laypeople.
#9
Old 09-06-2012, 08:39 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Challenger Deep
Posts: 10,472
Quote:
Originally Posted by Soapbox Monkey
Now, in Outbreak they had mentioned the southwest US, and it made sense that a potentially deadly virus could originate from someplace like Mexico, where there are areas that lack strict sanitation.
Except it didn't originate from Mexico. Soldiers first became sick with it in Korea, during the Korean war; 25 years later, the causative virus was isolated. The virus is now found in several parts of the world, but Mexico isn't one of them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferret Herder View Post
This CDC link about the very small number of cases would have been better - only 587 cases in the US between 1993-2011, or about 32 cases per year. I'd worry far, far, far more about being hit by a bus.
32 cases per year, with a mortality of 5-50%, depending on the strain. So worst case, 16 fatalities per year, and 16 potentially very sick people. Some perspective is in order. Compare those 16 deaths against 32,000 US fatalities per year in traffic accidents, and about 3000 US fatalities per year from foodborne illness. Bottom line, your risk of contracting a hantavirus illness is extremely low, especially since there has been no mention (that I'm aware of) of any hantavirus activity in the Poconos. You were probably at greater risk of bodily injury/death during the drive to/from camp than you were from any hantavirus.

In fact, being scared of the wrong things is a serious problem. Not only does anxiety keep us from enjoying things that are actually relatively safe (like camping), but it distracts us from things that are truly dangerous. It blows me away that 3000 people per year die from foodborne illness, but this study shows a big part of why it's happening: people routinely exhibit poor hand hygene, engage in cross-contamination (handling raw veggies after handling raw meat), and undercook meat. As in my earlier comparison with traffic fatalities, you are much more likely to die from a biohazardous sandwich than you are from hantavirus, even given the fact that you spent a weekend in a cabin contaminated with mouse turds.

Having said all of that, if you are a self-admitted anxiety-prone hypochondriac, all the facts in the world probably aren't going to talk you down from that ledge. You might benefit by talking to your doctor and asking whether anxiolytic medication might be helpful.
#10
Old 09-06-2012, 09:00 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Sweet Home Chicago
Posts: 33,496
(Not that it really matters, but what does Outbreak have to do with hantavirus, anyhow? Wasn't that an extremely virulent Ebola-like virus (which also happened to be fictional?))
#11
Old 09-06-2012, 10:50 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 923
Quote:
Originally Posted by Soapbox Monkey View Post
This past weekend I attended a camping event through Living Social at a summer camp up in the Poconos...
You were in the Poconos. Relax. Pennsylvania has had a couple cases of HPS, but it (and especially the Poconos, being on the eastern edge of the state) are at the outer edge of Hantavirus distribution.

Pennsylvania is one of the lower risk states. Less than 1% (actually only 0.25%) of reported HPS cases have occurred there (4 cases in the last 19 years). You're much more likely to get in a car accident driving there or back home.

Last edited by mozchron; 09-06-2012 at 10:51 AM.
#12
Old 09-06-2012, 07:35 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Female in Kansas
Posts: 6,953
Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
Except it didn't originate from Mexico. Soldiers first became sick with it in Korea, during the Korean war; 25 years later, the causative virus was isolated. The virus is now found in several parts of the world, but Mexico isn't one of them.
<snip>
Actually, the hantavirus was known as a sickness among Native Americans too, and passed down through the generations. This came up during the outbreak in Colorado in the 90s, that the local elders knew of the sickness from their lore. The elders pass down the wisdom that a wet spring can lead to sickness. (More mice breed, you see?) WE first identified it via a sample from Korea, but that does not mean it originates there! It's native here too.
#13
Old 09-06-2012, 07:48 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Sacratomato area
Posts: 2,723
Quote:
Originally Posted by aruvqan View Post
[you would be amazed at how prevalent mice are everywhere, not just in a campground. You really don't want to see what goes on in a food warehouse. Trust me.]
Yes, I was thinking about the risk this way. The OP was probably more at risk of getting sick from putting the edge of a soda can in their mouth, or from the lid of a can of beans accidentally falling into the contents while opening, than from getting it directly from mice or turds.
#14
Old 09-06-2012, 09:34 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: DC
Posts: 19,401
You have no idea how many people have mice. My entire neighborhood in DC has a large scale mouse problem- and that is every day, for every person who lives there.

Having seen some mouse poop once is nothing. You are fine.
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:03 AM.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: guinea pig balls smallest living thing generation 1984 marshall 250dfx anal greek message spell pathfinder is overbite bad glass chalk die latin sleping gas legions of satan elviras boobs swim trunks underwear bruno magli pronunciation sports announcer factoid puppy always hungry dvd compare anywho or anyhow walgreens umbrella mixing viscosities drano on toilet define second nature 3.5 wizard build soviet paratroopers ww2 shots of antibiotics translate punta gorda mozzarella in italian personal courier jobs puree without blender fret instrument spyder motorcycles warts after freezing starwars porkins khlav kalash pasta sauce vs pizza sauce oven light bulb keeps burning out food grade wax for sale fedex package delivered to wrong address joe vs the volcano lamp why do i weigh more in the morning dead person eyes open yellow jacket sting painful what kind of name is how to unscrew a light bulb that won't unscrew isopropyl alcohol vs methanol mildew proof caulk home depot is tylenol good for toothache i seen fire and i seen rain best extension cord for space heater don't be that guy pcu skin tag removal floss what does v/r mean what setting is simmer how does best buy store pickup work can prime numbers be negative how to make ice cubes that don't crack songs with the word baby in it how to tell when radishes are ready to pick talking to two girls at once alcohol withdrawal diarrhea how long what does ss mean on a boat name that's mighty white of you maine coon vs savannah cat what disability does forrest gump have how long to get ssn card