Hantaviruses are single-stranded, enveloped, negative sense RNA viruses. They normally infect vermin and do not cause disease in these hosts. Humans may become infected with Hantaviruses through contact with vermin urine, saliva, or droppings. Some strains of Hantaviruses cause potentially fatal diseases in humans, while others have not been associated with known human disease. HPS (Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome) is a rare respiratory illness associated with the inhalation of aerosolized rodent excreta (urine, saliva and feces) contaminated by Hantavirus particles. Symptoms include illness with fever, headache, myalgia’s, and often-prominent GI symptoms. People become infected through contact with hantavirus-infected vermin or their urine and droppings. Symptoms may appear from 5 to 45 days after exposure to the virus. HPS is a rare disease, but it has been reported in parts of Canada. WorkSafeBC regulation requires that Exposure Control Plans are followed to protect workers from exposure.
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