Spring and summer is a common time for facility managers and janitorial staff to discover rodent infestation.
As staff use the warmer weather to clean out storage sheds and other outdoor buildings that have often been closed for the winter, rodent infestation poses a very real risk.
Safety authorities are reminding staff to protect themselves against hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), a potentially severe viral infection spread by rodents.
HPS, which can cause severe lung disease, commonly spread in the urine, droppings, and saliva of rodents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC further advises that the hantavirus family can cause varied disease syndromes in people, and that each hantavirus has a specific rodent host species. It notes the most important hantavirus in the United States that can cause HPS is the Sin Nombre virus which is spread by the deer mouse.
The virus is usually transmitted when someone breathes in air contaminated by the virus or, on rare occasions, is bitten by an infected rodent.
So what can facility managers and staff do to avoid potentially deadly rodent infestation in their buildings?
The CDC offers several tips for cleaning rodent-infested buildings:
- Ventilate the building for at least 30 minutes by opening doors and windows
- Use wet mopping methods and wear rubber or plastic gloves
- Wear goggles and a mask when cleaning a confined space contaminated with rodent droppings
- Use a bleach disinfectant to dampen areas contaminated with droppings and remove them with a damp cloth or mop
- Steam clean, spray, or shampoo upholstered furniture with a detergent disinfectant or use bleach and water
- Wash potentially contaminated clothes and bedding with hot water
- Avoid dry cleaning methods, like vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, or air hosing.