Thursday, October 09, 2008

Hantavirus in rodents a growing threat to human health

Today's guest blog entry is by Trent Wakenight, MA, public relations consortium coordinator for the Global Nexus of Animal and Public Health Project at Michigan State University.

Climate change continues to change the way we live, this time being linked to human health and the spread of hantavirus, a disease linked to mice and other rodents.

Cases of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, an illness caused by hantaviruses, have increased in humans in typically cold places such as Russia and Eastern Europe. A probable cause is rodents infected with hantaviruses that are better able to survive milder winter conditions. By some estimates, one in three rodents carries the viruses.

There are five types of hantavirus, and it can be contracted through human contact with infected rodents or their urine and droppings. Infection occurs when humans inhale particles of dried materials or urine. Early symptoms include fever, chills, muscle pain and coughing. The infection can be fatal.

In 2007, cases of hantavirus infections in Russia topped 3,000 by mid-spring, following a mild winter. The increase was attributed to a rodent population that was 10 times higher than in previous years.

The virus has also been found in 10 states in the United States since its identification in 1993. An outbreak in Southwestern states that year affected 48 people with a mortality rate of 80 percent.

Wet, mild winters are thought to contribute to the disease spread, turning environmental issues into public health threats. Rodents are better able to survive, natural food supplies are more abundant and consequently the population is growing.

Humans at greatest risk are those involved in agricultural production, grain or feedlot operations, field biology or other places where rodent contact is likely. One study also found that 70 percent of those infected were exposed while cleaning homes or buildings where rodents had been living. Controlling for rodents in and around the home is the best strategy for preventing infection.


pest control said...

wow scary stuff thanks for sharing

Lisa P said...

The never-ending cycle of health problem, unemployment, poverty, terrorism, increasing standard of living of people, insufficient supply of food are just some of the current problem our economy is facing today, and sadly there were almost 10 million of the world’s children dies each year at the age of five because of hunger.

The leaves are changing and the weather is getting much cooler, which is a good indication that flu season is upon us once again. Most people know that washing your hands is the easiest (and most inexpensive) way to prevent the spread of disease and illness, including the flu virus. If you didn’t know that, WASH YOUR HANDS! What many people don’t realize is how serious the flu is; about 226,000 people are hospitalized every year, and nearly 36,000 people die each year on behalf of the flu virus. Unfortunately, preventing and treating the flu can be costly. Health experts suggest getting an annual flu shot. You can typically get flu shots for $20-$30, but if you have a family of five, those $30 shots add up quickly. If you end up getting the flu, treatment can be expensive too, especially if it requires a hospital visit. Needless to say, flu season can take a toll on your body and your budget. This is a friendly reminder that a payday cash loan can help cover medical bills. Oh, and don’t forget to wash your hands!

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PinkLemonade said...

I remember reading about this back when it was just a mystery disease in the SW -- intresting to know that it's still kicking even though its not making headlines anymore. hope people take precautions.