Hantavirus is a fairly new word that denotes a life threatening ailment that came to light for the first time at New Mexico's Navajo reservations. Since then this disease has claimed several lives in various regions of the world. A viral infection is responsible for this disease, which is likely to have existed for years, but managed to go unnoticed till recently. It was only in 1993 that scientists undertook a careful examination of this deadly virus for the first time following the inexplicable death of six people.
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The disease can occur all of a sudden and turn out to be deadly within a very brief period. In fact, often people may mistake hantavirus for a mysterious infection of the respiratory system. This disease is also known as the hantaviral pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Hantavirus is among the many respiratory diseases that have been discovered in recent times and are attributable to viral infections. In its initial stages, this disease may cause flu-like symptoms, but it advances quickly to become life threatening.
Scientists have shown special interest in this disease in the four comer area of southwest, the place where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah come together. Recently epidemiologists associated with the Federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention undertook investigations in Navajo reservation, a 971-mile area located in Arizona and New Mexico, with a view to discover the origin of this inexplicable disease.
So far, details of as many as 73 incidences of hantavirus have been documented in 18 states, which resulted in 42 deaths. As of now, this disease does not have any cure and, therefore, scientists and physicians have stressed on its prevention.
The family name of hantavirus has its origin in Korea's Hantaan River, where, many years ago, scientists discovered the first strain of this deadly virus.
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It is important to note that this disease spreads when one breathes in the virus or materials that contain the virus, which are usually carried by the urine, dung or even the saliva of rodents. In addition, the urine as well as droppings of deer mice can also give off particles that are transported by air and may be breathed in by humans.
Thus far, scientists have discovered three strains of hantavirus. There are several factors that may augment the chances of being infected by hantavirus and this includes the heavy winter precipitation, which may lead to plenty of pinon nuts on which the rodents survive; as well as unhygienic living conditions that draw rodents.
The symptoms of hantavirus are similar to that of influenza. In the initial stages of contacting hantavirus the patient may experience symptoms like fever, headache, coughing, sore muscles, and reddened eyes, and as the disease progresses, the patient may suffer from sluggish breathing owing to fluid-filled lungs.
Usually, these symptoms occur roughly two weeks following the patient coming in contact with the virus and they progress rapidly when fluids start filling the lungs. In fact, when this virus infects an individual, it attacks the capillaries in the lungs what leads to their leakage. As the initial symptoms start appearing, the virus travels through the bloodstream and subsequently appears to build up as the immune system is turned on to combat the virus.
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Certain herbs and supplements are useful for treating hantavirus, especially herbs that possess anti-viral properties. Some such herbs and supplements are listed below.
Vitamin A emulsion: This vitamin is a potent antioxidant that has the aptitude to get into the system rapidly and strengthen the immune system, especially when one is under immense stress owing to a viral infection.
Vitamin C with therapeutic doses of bioflavonoids: Vitamin C is a potent antiviral agent which also aids to make the capillary walls stronger. In fact, the hantavirus directly invades the capillary walls, especially in the lungs. Large doses of vitamin C help to aid in combating the virus. However, before you take this supplement, you should check with your physician regarding the appropriate dosage.
Zinc: Taking this mineral supplement aids in perking up the immune system to effectively combat the viral infection.
L-cysteine: This is a form of amino acid that is useful in defending the body against viral infections.
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Catnip: This herb works effectively to lower fevers that usually accompany viral infections.
Chlorophyll: Similar to burdock root, this phytochemical also helps to eliminate toxic substances from the bloodstream.
Garlic capsules: This herb possesses potent antiviral properties and therefore is effective for fighting viral infections.
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Heartsease: This particular herb encourages the healing process of the walls of the capillary.
Pau d' arco tea: People suffering from viral infections will find drinking a tea prepared from this herb beneficial, as it possesses antiviral properties.
Siberian ginseng: This herb is helpful for healing the damaged passage ways of the respiratory system. At the same time, it also enhances energy supplies and promotes recuperation from diseases and health conditions that make the person very feeble.
As the deadly hantavirus has the aptitude to survive for a maximum of three days in rodent droppings, it is important to sanitize all droppings/ dust, and bedding infected by rodents. Wear a dust mask and protective gloves and clean the damp contaminated places in your home using a solution of domestic two cups (500 ml) bleach and one gallon water.
You should be careful not to sweep up or vacuum clean any area, because doing so may bring you in contact with viruses that are carried by air. Use regular detergents and hot water to launder all infected clothes and beddings. After you remove the protective gloves remember to wash your hands thoroughly using soap and preferably warm water.
There are a few more things that you may do to avoid being infected by hantavirus. Some of these are discussed briefly below.
First and foremost, you should keep away from coming in contact with urine and droppings of rodents. While camping and hiking, you need to be careful to pitch your tents in places that do not have any rodent droppings. Besides, be cautious to keep away from dens of rodents and never sleep on the ground without a pad and a ground cover. Most importantly, disinfect the water before drinking.
At home, ensure that you keep the place clean and clean up all sites that may be possibly used by rodents for nesting. In case there is any rodent nest in your home, disinfect it immediately. Take special care to keep your kitchen clean and keep your entire foodstuff in airtight containers, especially those that are rodent-proof.
Provided there are mice in your home, you should use traps loaded with spring and catch mice by using food as baits. Keep the traps in newspapers on which flea powder has been sprinkled. You may also spray the nests with insecticides to eliminate fleas. Allow the trap to remain in place for a day and, subsequently, disinfect the place.
Get rid of all junk piles and old cars from your yards, as these might be used by rodents for nesting. Keep all the garbage in containers that are rodent proof. At the same time, ensure that you plug all gaps and holes where rodent may enter. Remember, even very small crevices, measuring about one-fourth of an inch, are enough for a mice to get through. Be careful never to sleep on the floor or ground.
In case you find a live rodent in your home, place a trap to catch it and when you have caught it, spray the mouse as well as the trap with disinfectants. Use a shovel or wear disposable rubber gloves to pick the mouse and the trap and put both in a double plastic bag. Put the bag in the garbage. In case you are living in a rural area, it is advisable that you bury the mouse. Always wash your hands thoroughly with a disinfectant provided you have touched a mouse accidently.
In case there is a rodent infestation, it will be wise not to sweep the area or use a vacuum to clean the area till the place is disinfected. Mop and clean the infested area using Lysol or a mixture of 1.5 cup (375 ml) chlorine bleach and one gallon (4.55 litres) of water. Ensure that you sanitize all the items you have utilized to clean and get rid of the infestation. Discard all things that were utilized to clean the area. Pack these decontaminated items in double plastic bags and discard them into garbage bins.
Provided you are living in a heavily rodent infested area it is advisable that you make use of a heap filter mask to place traps as well as disinfect the place.
While you are opening any cabin, building or shed that have not been used for a prolonged period, you should first open every door as well as the window at the place, leave the place and let the space to be ventilated for no less than 30 minutes. When you get back to the building, you need to spray all the carpets, surfaces and different other areas with disinfectants. Having done so, leave the place for another half an hour.
Use a 10% chlorine bleach solution or any other disinfectant of the same category to spray the nests and dropping of rodents. Put on disposable rubber gloves and then put all the infected materials in double plastic bags. After you seal the bags discard them in an incinerator or garbage tin. Also throw the gloves as well as the cleaning materials in a similar manner.
Last, but not the least important, wash all the hard surfaces that may possibly be infected meticulously using a bleach solution or any other disinfectant. Do not clean the area using vacuum till the place has been disinfected thoroughly. When the place has been decontaminated, use the vacuum cleaner for a few times after ensuring that there is sufficient ventilation. Wear surgical masks all the time, as they will help to protect you to some extent.