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In the news: Death by mouse

Dusana Bondy

A recent article in the National Post put Hantavirus front and center. More specifically Deer Mice and their population explosion in the Prairie Provinces this year.

This semi cute little thing has caused 30 people in Saskatchewan to contract Hanta virus and 10 deaths this year alone. Primarily from cleaning up sheds, cabins and crawlspaces etc.

As public health care providers, Abell Pest Control can assist the public in controlling this pest and in turn breaking the spread of the virus to the general public.

It is important to contact a pest management professional to ensure we protect ourselves when going into situations with Deer Mice.

Hantavirus is a organism carried by deer mice. An infected deer mouse will shed the virus in droppings, urine and saliva. The mouse typically lives in rural and semi-rural areas in nests located under trees, shrubs or in cavities and voids of buidings, unused cabinets or furniture.

Clinical Symptoms include the following, with the onset occurring 1 to 5 weeks after exposure:

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle pain

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Chills

Here are steps to reducing the risk of contracting hantavirus.

  1. Effective rodent control around buildings is essential.

  2. Wear nitrile gloves and a HEPA filter respirator when; working with a known or suspected Deer Mouse infestation, basements, crawlspaces, sheds, cabins (etc), handling traps and removing dead mice.

  3. Disinfect areas where you see rodents or their droppings. Sometimes nests are found inside cabinets (etc) soak these nests with disinfectant. General disinfectants and viracides or bleach (3 Tablespoons per gallon of water) are useful for inactivating the virus.

  4. Mop the area rather than sweeping or vacuuming.

  5. In high risk areas such as basement, garages or infrequently used area always wear gloves and a respirator with Hepa cartridges when cleaning. Make sure you have disinfectant on hand.

  6. Always apply disinfectants to rodents and traps, and place into sealed plastic bags prior to disposal in sealed garbage cans.

To summarize, Hanta Virus is a serious, potentially deadly respiratory disease carried by deer mice. Medical attention should be sought if symptoms occur within 45 days of possible exposure.

About the author:

Dusana Bondy is the senior Technical Support Auditor at Abell Pest Control. Holding a Technical Diploma in Environmental Pest Management from Sir Sanford Fleming College, she has participated in large full scale food safety audits in various industries such as Chocolate, Tobacco, Milling etc. In her 11 years with Abell, she has spearheaded some of the larger audits along with customer and internal training. Her passion for the industry translates to home life, as she aspires to transform her two daughters into future entomologists.

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