Do you ever get really excited about something, only to have the rug pulled out from under you? That happened to me this week. In scanning through my e-newsletters and outbreak summaries I came across an article “Ugandan outbreak of elephantiasis linked to walking barefoot in volcanic soil”. As geeky as I know I’m going to sound, without reading the article I was giddy and I had already come up with how I would start the blog by tying in the fact that I HATE sand. I know it’s rather ironic having just gone on vacation to a beach resort, but I really do HATE sand and assume the same would be said of volcanic soil. It gets everywhere and I particularly HATE walking in sand – the feel on the bottom of my feet, the feel when it gets between my toes…. Ask my husband, me walking on sand is akin to a cat outdoors walking in snow. You know that pick foot up and shake before you put it down again? That’s me.
Then I read the article and learned that the elephantiasis was not being caused by an infectious organism. It was actually caused from walking on the volcanic soil itself which has sharp mineral crystals that penetrate the soles of feet and cause inflammation and pain… There was no tie in with disinfection of hands, surfaces or devices which is the intent of Talk Clean To Me…. The rug had been pulled out from under me.
And then this morning, I came across an article stating that the first person for 2017 in New Mexico has died from Hantavirus. While no death from an infectious agent is funny, I had to chuckle a bit as several years ago I involuntarily acquired a “bestie” who called concerned about finding a mouse nest in his boat when he went to launch it in the spring. The conversation was memorable because it did not just end with one call, but over a couple of years each spring I would get a call to confirm how to deal with the newest mouse nest he found to ensure he did not get hantavirus….
Hantaviruses are a group of viruses, carried by rodents, particularly wild rodents such as deer mice, white-footed mice and several species of rats. Hantaviruses found in North, South and Central America, can cause severe respiratory (lung) disease in humans. They are transmitted to rodents and humans alike, via both direct contact through bites and via aerosolization of dust contaminated with rodent droppings, urine or saliva. While human infection concerns exist in environments where rodents may be, pets and livestock do not have any concerns with becoming infected with hantavirus. That said, if you happen to have a pet mouse or rat, you do want to keep them away from wild rodents to avoid transmission.
If you’re doing any form of spring cleaning – particularly in a cottage or boat that may have been closed up for the winter, a few key tips to avoid infection include: wearing rubber gloves when cleaning areas where rodents may have been, allow the area to air out before entering, wet surfaces with a disinfectant and avoid sweeping or other activities that raise a lot of dust. If you’re concerned with raising dust, then wear a face mask to protect yourself.
Happy spring cleaning!