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Threat of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome to field biologists working with small mammals.

  • Author(s): Kelt, Douglas A
  • Van Vuren, Dirk H
  • Hafner, Mark S
  • Danielson, Brent J
  • Kelly, Marcella J
  • et al.
Abstract

Low risk for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) has been reported among biologists engaged in fieldwork with rodents. The overall probability of acquiring HPS when working with rodents appears to be 1 in 1,412 (0.00071). Nonetheless, a causal link between HPS and lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) use is suggested by some investigators. However, supporting data are incomplete and consequently misleading. A recent HPS case was assumed to be acquired during rodent-handling activities, although substantial peridomestic exposure was evident. Regulatory groups interpret inadequate data as evidence of the need for excessive and inappropriate PPE, which can hamper field research and instructional efforts. PPE recommendations should be reviewed and revised to match the risk associated with different types of fieldwork with small mammals.

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