Message #211

Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 23:22:00:32
Subject: Hantavirus Prophylaxis

[ AzTeC / SWA SASIG ] :

From: James A. Sturgess


We just did a project in a known HV environment --
closed up buildings, rodent populations, and
droppings aplenty. Also a recent in-same-county
infection. I had our Certified Industrial Hygienist
prepare an employee safety procedure for work in
such areas. I have it electronic form and will
attach it to email for your distribution via your
SWA web site SASIG archive. As a trained population
ecologist (although long ago), I foresee that all
conditions are ripe for a very rapid and sustained
population spike over the next two years for the
HV vectors. There will be many infections and many
deaths. The current fatality rate of 33 to 45 % is
not comforting. My concern is not with destroying
pollen grains. My concern is that in planning to do
work in truly high risk areas, your compatriots
would do well to wait out a year or so for the risk
to go down, after the snake, predator, and food
base brings the rodent numbers down. The infection
rates in 1993 were in response to wet and bumper
crop El Nino year. The use of  "industrial masks"
is a farce and should be saved for sawdust and
drywall areas. They are less than worthless for
Hantavirus, or paint, or most other things they are
used for. Doubling up a bra cup mask is twice as
dangerous because it will allow for more exposure
with false sense of security. It is like coffee to
a drunk -- it just keeps them awake to drive more
dangerously. Cartridge-type HEPA respirators that
are fit tested are the only way that I would
recommend (see article). Be aware that eyelids,
tear duct openings and other mucous membrane areas,
as well as hand-to-mouth outside the risk areas can
be just as bad as inhalation. Fortunately, the pack
rat, kangaroo rat, and other common southwest rats
are not the main culprits. Deer mouse and cotton rat
are the main culprits.

[ SASIG Ed. Note -- Mr.Sturgess' protocol document
is a 231K PDF file. ]