Washington State University
SAFETY POLICIES AND PROCEDURES MANUAL

PUBLIC HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
6.33
Revised 1-08
Environmental Health and Safety
335-3041

Prevention of Hantavirus Exposure

PDF link

OVERVIEW

Hantavirus causes a serious, respiratory illness called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. The symptoms of hantavirus infection are similar to influenza, i.e., fever, body aches, chills, and trouble breathing.

Exposure

Hantavirus is spread primarily by deer mice in the Northwest. Hantavirus is spread through their droppings, urine, saliva, and nesting material. The virus attaches to dust particles, which can become airborne if disturbed.

Humans may be infected by:

Risk of Infection

Hantavirus infection is extremely rare, even among people who are consistently exposed to mice and other rodents. Hantavirus poses no significant health risk to WSU employees provided simple precautions are followed.

Employees with the following duties have the greatest potential for exposure to hantavirus:

Responsibility

The department utilizing and controlling a space is ultimately responsible for all required cleanup and rodent control measures.

Trapping and Handling Live Rodents

To obtain specific information about the safety measures for field trapping, research, and handling of wild rodents:

http://www.ogrd.wsu.edu/

Select Forms; then
Select IACUC and Animal Forms Page; then
Select Guidelines for Handling Animal Reservoirs of Hantavirus; and

PRECAUTIONS

Take precautions when rodent droppings, nesting material, evidence of feeding, or dead rodents are present.

Do not sweep, vacuum, or generate airborne dust when rodent droppings and nesting materials are present.

RODENT CONTROL MEASURES

Follow the rodent control measures listed below if rodent droppings or nesting material are found.

Openings

Plug, screen, or cover all openings bigger than 1/4 inch wide.

Traps or Poison

A department may directly treat a rodent problem if the following requirements are observed. The department is to:

NOTE: WSU has a blanket contract with a pest control contractor. See 6.30 for more information or contact EH&S, telephone 335-3041; or Purchasing Services; telephone 335-3541.

Food and Water Sources

Eliminate food and water sources for mice.

CLEANING

Use wet cleaning methods only.

Follow the steps below to clean areas where deer mice and other rodents have left droppings, nesting material, or evidence of feeding.

Infestation Not Severe

Infestation is not severe if only a few droppings are found in a localized area.

Use Protective Gloves

Wear latex or nonlatex rubber gloves. Latex-sensitive individuals are to use nonlatex rubber gloves.

Disinfect Before Disposal

Mix a disinfectant solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Other disinfectants and household detergents are also acceptable for deactivating the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Use a rag, sponge, or mop that has been soaked in disinfectant for wiping up rodent droppings and urine.

Thoroughly soak or spray droppings, nesting material and dead rodents with the disinfectant.

Disposal

Rodents

Place dead rodents in a plastic bag and seal.

Put the sealed bag into another plastic bag and seal.

Put the bagged dead rodents into a biohazard box. Boxes can be purchased at WSU University Stores, telephone 335-4592.

Contact Facilities Services, Operations Waste Management, telephone 335-4530, for pickup and incineration. See 4.24 for more information on biohazard waste disposal.

Contaminated Material

Place contaminated material (excluding dead rodents), including the gloves that were worn, in a plastic bag and seal.

Dispose of the bag in the regular trash.

After Cleaning

Wash hands with soap and hot water.

Severe Infestation

Infestation is severe if large numbers of rodent droppings are found and the risk of infection is increased in closed, unoccupied storage areas, such as barns.

NOTE: Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator with HEPA filter cartridges prior to entering an area which is or may be severely infested.

Air Out Area

Air out the area for at least 30 minutes by opening windows and doors.

Close adjacent uncontaminated areas when airing out the contaminated area.

Leave the area while it is airing out.

Use Respirator and Protective Clothing

Wear the following while cleaning:

Fit-testing and training is required before using respirator. Contact EH&S, telephone 335-3041, to schedule fit-testing and training.

Disinfect Before Disposal

Mix a disinfectant solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Other disinfectants may be acceptable. Other disinfectants and household detergents are also acceptable for deactivating the virus, according to the CDC.

Use a rag, sponge, or mop that has been soaked in disinfectant for wiping up rodent droppings and urine.

Thoroughly soak or spray droppings, nesting material and dead rodents with the disinfectant.

Spray dirt floors with the disinfectant.

Disposal

Rodents

Place dead rodents in a plastic bag and seal.

Put the sealed bag into another plastic bag and seal.

Put the bagged dead rodents into a biohazard box.

Contact Facilities Services, Operations Waste Management, telephone 335-4530, for pickup and incineration. See 4.24 for more information on biohazard waste disposal.

Contaminated Material

Place contaminated material (excluding dead rodents), including the gloves that were worn, in a plastic bag and seal.

Dispose of the bag in the regular trash.

After Cleaning

Disinfect rubber boots and shoe coverings.

Wash hands and/or shower with soap and hot water.

Launder clothes worn while cleaning in a separate load.

WHITMAN COUNTY CONTRACTS

A WSU Pullman department experiencing a rodent infestation problem may purchase services from the University's pest control and/or cleanup contractor. Contact EH&S or Purchasing Services for the names and telephone numbers of the contractors.

Paying for Services

The department is responsible for paying for all pest control contractor inspection and cleanup charges related to work conducted in the departmental space.

A departmental official with expenditure authority (see BPPM 70.02) signs the vendor's invoice and enters the account code of the supporting WSU budget/project.

The department routes the invoice to Accounts Payable for payment.

MONITORING

Regularly monitor to determine if rodents are infesting the area.

EH&S

Contact Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) to request:

Training

EH&S provides hantavirus exposure prevention training for WSU employees.