Hunters should remember that opening winter camps or cabins that have gone unused since last hunting season may expose them to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). It is good to take some simple precautions to protect against exposure to this serious lung disease.
Hantavirus is spread by exposure to rodent droppings, urine and nesting materials. Deer mice, which are found in New Mexico, are known to carry the disease. According to David Wolfgang, an extension veterinarian and field studies director in Veterinary and Biomedical Sciencesd, it is important to take precautions, particularly when opening or cleaning a hunting camp or cabin since you may come in contact with rodent droppings and dust contaminated with the virus.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the following steps for preventing spread of the disease:
- Exclude rodents from cabins and camps by blocking holes and filling cracks.
- Wash all dishes and utensils with hot soapy water, and store food in rodent-proof containers.
- Make sure bedding, pillows and sleeping bags are clean, and launder them prior to use if they might have been contaminated by rodents.
- Air out buildings for at least 30 minutes before you start cleaning, and wear rubber gloves. Spray all materials or surfaces, wetting thoroughly, where droppings and urine are suspected with a general purpose disinfectant. For large areas, use a 10 percent household laundry bleach solution (1-1/2 cups of bleach per gallon of water). Pick up the wet material with a damp towel, or gently sweep it into a dust pan. Following this, mop or wipe the area with disinfectant
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