Spring Cleaning Critter Prevention
Hantavirus, Rabies and tick-borne illnesses are all diseases that see a rise in the springtime due to the increased movement of animals, people and interaction between the two. The good news is that these illnesses are preventable. CCHD encourages people to review the information below about how to keep critters and their diseases from spreading to your family.
Cleaning activities can disturb nesting materials contaminated with dried saliva, urine, or droppings from infected deer mice. When nesting materials become airborne, inhaling that air can cause an exposure to the virus. This exposure can lead to a Hantavirus infection. A person might also be infected with Hantavirus if contaminated materials are directly introduced into broken skin or into the eyes or mouth. Symptoms can begin showing one to six weeks after becoming infected with the virus. The illness typically starts with 3-5 days of “flu-like” symptoms including fever, sore muscles, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Within a few days the illness rapidly progresses to severe shortness of breath and in some cases can result in death if not treated properly.
The best way to prevent Hantavirus transmission is by controlling rodent populations in areas where you live and work.
- Seal up cracks and gaps in buildings that are larger than 1/4 inch, including window and door sills, under sinks around the pipes, in foundations, attics, and any rodent entry hole.
- Trap indoor rats and mice with snap traps, and remove rodent food sources.
- Keep food (including pet food) in rodent-proof containers.
Rabies infected bats were positively identified in a Cascade County homes in 2015 and 2016. Rabies is transmitted through bites from dogs, cats, bats, raccoons, foxes, etc. Symptoms include hydrophobia (fear of water, inability to swallow water, or cannot quench thirst), paralysis, hallucinations, and hyper salivation. Rabies is almost always fatal to humans. Approximately, 1 to 2 people in the US die each year from rabies exposure.
Here are some tips to minimize exposure to this disease:
- Close doors and windows at night so bats do not fly into your home.
- Ensure your pet is properly vaccinated and examined at least once a year.
- Keep pets in your yard or on a leash. Stray animals are the most common reason for Post Exposure Prophylaxis recommendations.
- Notify your local animal control of any suspicious animal behavior or stray animals.
Tick borne illnesses occur more frequently in the spring due to the fact that humans interact with tick’s habitats more often. They are typically located in tall grass, brush and shrubs. The most common disease associated with ticks in North America is Lyme disease. Symptoms often include fatigue, fever, headache, mild stiff neck.
Small steps can be taken to help ensure you are safe from tick borne illnesses.
- Use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing
- Have a friend or relative check daily for attached ticks
- Minimize areas of exposed skin by wearing long sleeved shirts, long pants with shirts tucked into pants.