Don't Use a Broom to Sweep Up Hantavirus Contaminated Dust

By: Brian Shields - Fri, 17 Aug 2012 20:24:56 -0800

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) -- The death of an Alameda County man because of the Hantavirus contracted during a trip to Yosemite has some people reconsidering their vacation plans.

Doctors say some simple precautions can let you camp out safely and avoid the risk of getting exposed to the potentially dangerous virus.

Experts say the Hantavirus comes from exposure to deer mice droppings or urine.  In most cases you don't have to touch anything to become exposed.

"The most common way you can actually get infected is if you inhale contaminated dust that results from the urine and droppings of deer mice," UCSF physician Dr. Charles Chiu tells KRON 4's Dan Kerman.  "Since the virus can already be in contaminated dust in the cabins, it's very important to open up all the doors and windows and let the cabin air out for 30 minutes to one hour before even actually entering the cabin.  The second thing you can do after airing it out is to attempt to clean the dust that may potentially by contaminated with the urine and droppings from the deer mice."

Dr. Chiu says whatever you do, don't get out a broom because sweeping the dust can just kick it up into the air and make it easier to get exposed.  He says you should use wet towels with ten percent bleach to keep the dust from getting into the air.

Most of the deer mice live at higher elevations in the Sierra but it is possible for them to be found at lower elevations like Yosemite valley.  

Workers are busy over the weekend cleaning the tent cabins where the victims stayed when they were exposed.

(Copyright 2012, KRON 4, All rights reserved.)
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