Peromyscus and Hanta Virus

Terry Derting <dertit02@MSUMUSIK.MURSUKY.EDU> wrote:

Does anyone have an estimate of the probability of contracting the Hanta virus from intensive trapping of Peromyscus species in the midwest (Illinois)?

Jim Boone replies:


Given the number of people who intensively trap Peromyscus, and number of us who die from Hanta virus (or for that matter, show antibodies), it appears that the probability of contracting the Hanta virus from trapping Peromyscus is low.

In fact, it is very difficult to transmit Hanta virus, and even sera-negative mice living in cages with sera-positive mice for long periods of time (months) can remain sera-negative.

So, take reasonable precautions: don't sniff your traps; deal with traps outside or in a well ventilated room; if there is a breeze, stand crosswise to it to reduce wind eddies; wash your hands when you are finished; and most of all, have a good time handling these fun little mice!

Hanta virus is not much of a "real" problem; people just tend to fear what they don't understand. Put in perspective, the chance of dying in a car crash en route to the field is vastly greater than the chance of dying from Hanta virus. However, the risk is not zero. So, wear seat belts, drive carefully, and if you develop flu-like symptoms after working your traps, go immediately to a doctor and tell them that Hanta virus is a possibility.

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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