(Received 18 August 1995; accepted 20 March 1996)
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In 1993, a previously unrecognized hantavirus was identified as the cause for a severe form of respiratory distress later termed Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). In the past two years, several distinct hantaviruses, of which many are pathogenic, have been found in rodent populations in the US. Rodents shed the virus in their saliva, urine, and feces. Humans usually become infected after inhaling either aerosolized droplets of urine or particulates contaminated with rodent excreta. Rodents, including those identified as hantavirus reservoirs, will often infest and disturb human remains. Forensic science personnel should recognize the potential HPS risks associated with rodent contaminated remains and consider using High Efficiency Particulate Air-filter respirators, disinfectants, and insecticides to minimize risks.
Michael Fink, T
Epidemiologist, Vector-borne & Zoonotic Disease Section, Phoenix, Arizona
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