Update on RODENTS. from Virginia Department of Health.... just FYI
DISEASE PREVENTION TIPS FOR PERSONS HANDLING PET RODENTS
Any animal may be carrying germs that can cause illness in humans so following some simple precautions to prevent disease transmission from animals is always important.
A rare human disease that people can get from wild or pet rodents occurred recently in New England organ transplant recipients who were infected by the donor's organs. The donor had recently purchased a pet hamster. The cause of the disease, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), was found in rodents from the pet store where the hamster was purchased and hamsters from a supplier to the pet store. Although many pet stores have stopped receiving and selling rodents from that supplier, it is unclear whether other rodents may also be infected.
LCMV is normally found in three to 40 percent of wild mice, especially house mice, which can then infect humans or pet rodents.
LCMV rarely causes human illness. Of the few people who may get sick, the symptoms are usually mild and may include fever, stiff neck, lack of appetite, muscle aches, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms occur one to two weeks after exposure and are usually short in duration. More serious disease affects the nervous system. Those at highest risk for rare serious illness have weakened immune systems. Infection of pregnant women during the first or second trimester can result in birth defects and fetal death.
What you can do to lower the risk of illness from your pet rodents:
- 1. Wash hands with soap and water after handling pet rodents or cleaning up pet droppings, cages, or areas where pets have been.
- 2. Keep rodent cages clean and free of soiled bedding.
- 3. Clean cages in a well-ventilated area or outside. Wear rubber, latex, vinyl or nitrile gloves and wash hands thoroughly when you are done. Once the cage is clean of solid material, wash it with a dilute bleach solution (one and one-half cups of bleach to one gallon of water) or another household disinfectant.
- 4. Closely supervise young children, for example those less than five years old, when cleaning cages or handling rodents. They should be supervised or assisted in washing their hands immediately after handling rodents and rodent cages or bedding.
- 5. Never kiss or hold pet rodents close to the face.
- 6. Keep pet rodents from coming in contact with wild rodents or their droppings or nests. Pet rodents should always be supervised when not in their cages.
- 7. Pregnant women or persons with weakened immune systems should seriously consider not owning a pet rodent. If such persons are in a home with a pet rodent, they should, at a minimum, avoid prolonged stays in the room where the rodent resides, keep the animal in a separate part of the home and ask another family member or friend to clean the cage and care for the animal.
For further information, see the following websites: www.vdh.virginia.gov and www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/spb/mnpages/dispages/lcmv.htm
August 12, 2005
For More Information Contact
- Suzanne Jenkins, State Public Health Veterinarian, (804) 864-8141
- Jimeequa Williams, PIO, (804) 864-7897
VDH ADVISES OF HEALTH RISK FROM PET RODENTS
(RICHMOND , Va.)The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is asking pet store owners that sell rodents such as mice, hamsters and guinea pigs to take extra precautions to limit the spread of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). LCMV is usually carried by wild house mice, but can also affect pet rodents. Those pet rodents can then pass the infection on to humans.
If you currently own or are considering purchasing a pet rodent, or if you have a problem with wild rodents occupying your home, VDH recommends safeguarding yourself and your family from this disease, especially if anyone in your household is pregnant or immunocompromised. Although human infection is rare, there can be serious consequences for the unborn child of a pregnant woman infected during the first or second trimester. Similarly, those with weakened immune systems or individuals preparing to donate organs should also avoid contact with wild and pet rodents.
Health officials have become increasingly concerned with LCMV since May when, in New England , an infection passed from a pet rodent to an organ donor and resulted in the deaths of three recipients of the donated organs. The infection was traced back to a pet rodent distributor in Ohio who supplies hamsters and guinea pigs to chain and independent pet stores in several states, possibly including Virginia .
Pet rodents can become infected with LCMV after coming in contact with wild rodents at a breeding facility, pet store, or at home. Humans can develop LCMV infection from exposure to urine, droppings, saliva, or nesting material of infected rodents. Most people who become infected with the virus do not become ill. Those who do fall ill may experience symptoms such as fever, stiff neck, lack of appetite, muscle aches, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms occur one to two weeks after exposure and are usually short in duration.
"Although the risk of humans becoming infected with LCMV is low, and the risk of becoming sick from infection is even lower, pet store owners and those in high-risk categories must take precautions to limit the spread of this disease," said State Health Commissioner Robert B. Stroube, M.D., M.P.H.
At present there is no way to determine how many or which pet rodents are infected with LCMV. The only reliable test for LCMV in rodents requires that the animals be dead. The investigations at the Ohio distributor and the pet store where the donor bought the implicated rodent identified a small proportion of hamsters and a guinea pig as infected (3 percent of pet rodents tested). There is no way to know what percentage, if any, of other pet rodents are infected. Studies on house mice have shown that anywhere from three to 40 percent are infected.
Testing healthy people for LCMV is not necessary. Similarly, testing people with previous history of LCMV-compatible illness generally is not useful. People who have been exposed to wild or pet rodents and show symptoms of LCMV should seek medical care.
For more information about pet rodent handling instructions, an overview of LCMV, and tips on how to keep your family safe from animal-born diseases, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov and click on the link for Disease Information and Prevention. Additional information about LCMV can also be found at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/spb/mnpages/dispages/lcmv.htm.
Provided as public service information