We’ve had several customers ask about protection from the Hantavirus. Infection with hantavirus comes from contact with infected rodents and can develop into Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), which can be life threatening.
Yosemite, one of the most spectacular US National Parks, has announced a total of 10 confirmed cases of hantavirus among recent visitors. The virus isn’t passed between people, but is caught by coming in contact with deer mice, cotton rats, rice rats, or the white-footed mouse. Being in contact with these rodents, their feces, or urine can put even healthy people close enough to breath in hantaviruses.
And while we don’t see the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommending respiratory protection during clean-up operations, it certainly couldn’t hurt. Typically an N95-rated Dust Mask is considered sufficient protection against viruses. Particles from mouse feces might become airborne if they are swept or vacuumed, so spraying with a mixture of bleach and water is recommended before wiping down the areas. But if you are worried about airborne particles as you are entering a space to be cleaned, it certainly makes sense to wear a disposable respirator.
The other item that is mentioned for clean-up of areas that may have mouse droppings or nests is bleach. And while the solution for clean-up is mild, some folks are more sensitive to bleach than others. 3M makes a Multi-gas Cartridge 6006 for organic vapors, chlorine (bleach), hydrogen chloride, and other potentially harmful substances. These cartridges can be fitted with a P95 pre-filter model number 5P71. The pre-filter connects over the top of the bleach cartridge so you can protect against both things at once.
With this solution, you’ll also need the 3M 501 Retainer to hold the filter on the cartridge, and one of the 3M masks that they attach to. My personal favorite is the 7500 Series from 3M for maximum comfort.
In any case, Hantavirus is nothing to mess around with. It can cause flu-like symptoms that last from one to five weeks, and may include difficulty breathing.
A respirator mask works only as good as it fits. It won’t protect you from hazards if it doesn’t fit your face properly.