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Guidelines for Working with Rodents Potentially Infected with Hantavirus

James N. Mills, Terry L. Yates, James E. Childs, Robert R. Parmenter, Thomas G. Ksiazek, Pierre E. Rollin, C. J. Peters
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1382742 716-722 First published online: 18 August 1995


Because of the high morbidity and mortality associated with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome and the possibility of aerosol transmission of hantaviruses, persons handling known reservoir species in the field, laboratory, or classroom should take special precautions to minimize the risk of infection. We provide specific guidelines for personal safety while trapping, handling and releasing, transporting, sampling, and performing necropsy on potentially infected rodents or teaching field classes in areas occupied by reservoir species. Special consideration should be given to respiratory protection, choice and use of disinfectants, decontamination of instruments and traps, proper disposal of infectious wastes, and preservation and shipment of samples intended for hantavirus testing. Precautionary testing of wild rodents used to start laboratory colonies is recommended. Although we specifically address hantaviruses, the procedures described are applicable for any study of populations of small mammals when an infectious zoonotic agent transmissible by aerosol and capable of causing high morbidity and mortality is involved.

Key words
  • Hantavirus
  • laboratory colonies
  • hantavirus pulmonary syndrome
  • safety
  • necropsy
  • Peromyscus
  • Sigmodon

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