Discussions relating to Hantavirus *Poll Added 6th April*

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Would you be interested in hantavirus testing?

No
8
13%
Yes, in the North
18
28%
Yes, in the Midlands
9
14%
Yes, in the South West
5
8%
Yes, in the South East
19
30%
Yes, anywhere
5
8%
 
Total votes: 64

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izzerie
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Re: Discussions relating to Hantavirus

Post by izzerie » Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:46 pm

That's really reassuring Kate, thank you for contacting Noel and feeding back the information. Being nosey here but who is Noel and what is his connection with the situation?

Just as a side point, will it be possible to be tested anonymously apart from at shows? I've only ever been to one show and there's only really Meldreth that's feasible for me to get to tbh.
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KateR
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Re: Discussions relating to Hantavirus

Post by KateR » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:26 pm

He's Dr Noel McCarthy from the HPA, who wrote the letter to give to GPs should we want tested.
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Re: Discussions relating to Hantavirus

Post by NellyNoodle » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:43 pm

I personally don't think the hype will get out of hand. As has been mentioned in several places, rats carry a few things we can catch, as do many other household pets, this isn't the first case of people getting sick from their pets and people still keep pets. Cats carry scarier things IMO.

I am hoping to start breeding soon, and will be drafting a health and hygiene guide to new owners which covers things like rat bite fever, staph, and general hygiene measures like covering cuts with plasters, not letting them clean your teeth etc etc, as well as this. I don't anticipate potential pet owners running for the hills provided the info is presented in a level headed way.

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Re: Discussions relating to Hantavirus

Post by gwen » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:11 am

i have just read about this after searching google to see what other information was out there, and i found in the yorkshire post
There have been around 40 cases confirmed in the UK in the last 30 years of infections from the virus, the majority linked to an outbreak in Somerset in 1992.
http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/at- ... -1-5411736

as a very new rat owner i am slightly concerned my boys may get ill but not about me being ill. and as i have a dog and cat as well i am sure they have much more viruses they could pass to me, as well as them picking up something while they are out and about in the fields

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NellyNoodle
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Re: Discussions relating to Hantavirus

Post by NellyNoodle » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:28 am

There isn't any evidence as yet that the virus makes the rats themselves ill, although I think this may become the subject of further research.

Interestingly the strain found in Yorkshire wild rats is a different one again to the one Lisa's rats had.

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Re: Discussions relating to Hantavirus

Post by Campion Stud » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:11 am

The mention of bird flu did remind me that when that first came out, all bird shows we're cancelled and the fancy did suffer. Dad was a very good breeder and judge but since then ended up giving up, although in recent years he has been giving it another go.
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Re: Discussions relating to Hantavirus

Post by neotoma » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:24 am

I agree - the response from rat people in general so far, from Lisa's excellent handling of her own very difficult situation, through to pet owners here has been impressively calm and sensible. The HPA response so far also seems very calm, measured and evidence led. It's sad we can't expect the same from the press.

Precaution-wise I am being good about handwashing, keeping rat bowls (which have usually been wee'd on) and human bowls separate, and minimising dust with cleaning - but I'd do that with a cat too. I've never encouraged mouth or nose grooming because there have always been things (staph infections, ring-worm etc) that can pass between rats and humans. It's not a response to this specifically (I'm in Australia where hantavirus is so far unknown, and the rodent populations are pretty isolated) - just common sense hygiene when working round animals, especially fecal material.

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Re: Discussions relating to Hantavirus

Post by RCTLisa » Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:38 am

The HPA recommendation for cage cleaning is as follows:
* Do not sweep or vacuum bedding
* Wear disposable/rubber gloves when cleaning cages
* Ideally wear a face mask
* Spray the bedding with water before removing from cage and leave for 5 mins (This stop infectious particles becoming air-borne)
* wash your hands after cleaning cages and handling the rodents

If people follow these guidelines is completely person choice but as I said, these are the recommendations.
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Re: Discussions relating to Hantavirus

Post by Ceslater » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:21 am

Whilst part of me is having to work very hard not to lose it in panic, part of me thinks that really some of the precautions are things we should be doing anyway. I mean, I wouldn't dream of sharing spoons with the people I live with and I have enough problems sharing washing up bowls but I wouldn't even think twice about giving one of my rats a lick of yoghurt off my spoon. I often am a little over cautious but some of those things, I am not always doing so maybe on some level, this is a bit of a pull up.
I am not for a second suggesting that RCTLisa and her family weren't being clean or hygenic. I am only commenting on the list of suggested precautions in relation to my own behaviour...I just wanted to claify.
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Re: Discussions relating to Hantavirus

Post by Maltey » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:26 am

I have another question I've been thinking about- I've read that it can be passed through urine, feaces and saliva, what about sneezing and their blood?
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Re: Discussions relating to Hantavirus

Post by lilladysez » Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:40 am

I do wonder if changing hygiene routines is pointless until we know more. My rats and my human family (including my two year old) have been sharing bowls and spoons since I got rats 7 years ago. I've never been seriously ill in that time and neither has my son who I would assume would have been way more susceptible, in the beginning at least, as the rats have been finishing his cereal bowl for the last 18 months. Now I'm going to have to start making them their own and I'm sooo lazy ;)
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lilladysez
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Re: Discussions relating to Hantavirus

Post by lilladysez » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:05 am

Too late to edit, sorry.

Should we be washing up rat bowls/water bottles etc and human things separately? It should be mentioned that we never actively share with the rats, all stuff from in their cage or mouths is washed before humans use it.
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Re: Discussions relating to Hantavirus

Post by rattycorner » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:14 am

The number of times I've had rat pee in rat scratches over the past 11 years, I think if the rats have it then I've had it. Also, how do you get the piles of bedding out from under the cages without vacuuming or sweeping it?

I'm planning to carry on as normal, and am now waiting until the testing is anonymous before getting anything done.
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neotoma
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Re: Discussions relating to Hantavirus

Post by neotoma » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:52 am

I think precautions are a case of balance. For example, my rattus tend to pee on me when they run up my arms and I'm sure some of it must get in scratches (in fact I know some has because it stings) - there is no way of preventing that short of not handling them in summer (long-sleeves not an option in 40 degrees). So that is one slight risk that I am exposed to, but avoiding it would impact negatively on me and them.

However, washing their usually pee covered food bowls separately from our dishes doesn't have any negative impacts and reduces another source of risk, ditto washing my hands properly after handling. For cleaning out, I can't avoid some sweeping due to furry idiots kicking stuff out of cages, but I can minimise dust when cleaning the main parts of the cage and the litter trays, I can use gloves when handling fecal material, I can spray stuff with a suitable disinfectant. So some risks are recognised and accepted as being small but unavoidable, some are avoided, which reduces the overall risk of any cross infection (of anything, it's not relevant to just this virus).

It's the same kind of principles you apply to everyday life - I do wash my hands after going to the toilet, as it is a sensible and manageable hygiene measure. I don't wash my hands every time I touch the office door handle (which is probably crawling with germs) because it wouldn't be sustainable. In the lab we take what precautions in use of dangerous materials that are practical, but we don't push them to the degree that makes the work unmanageable (as long as the risk is in an acceptable part of the risk assessment matrix). I view hygiene around animals in the same way - some risks are easy to eliminate and reduce so it is sensible to do so, other risks have to be judged and accepted because you can't get on with life without taking them.

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Re: Discussions relating to Hantavirus

Post by neotoma » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:06 pm

Campion Stud wrote:The mention of bird flu did remind me that when that first came out, all bird shows we're cancelled and the fancy did suffer. Dad was a very good breeder and judge but since then ended up giving up, although in recent years he has been giving it another go.
I think the crucial difference between this and bird flu is that bird flu could potentially be transmitted between humans - which automatically requires more stringent public health measures because the chances of transmission through the general population are much higher.
gwen wrote:i have just read about this after searching google to see what other information was out there, and i found in the yorkshire post
There have been around 40 cases confirmed in the UK in the last 30 years of infections from the virus, the majority linked to an outbreak in Somerset in 1992.
http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/at- ... -1-5411736

as a very new rat owner i am slightly concerned my boys may get ill but not about me being ill. and as i have a dog and cat as well i am sure they have much more viruses they could pass to me, as well as them picking up something while they are out and about in the fields
I would be cautious with google ;) It's important to remember there are multiple viruses involved with hantavirus infections. This case and the wild rat case in Yorkshire involve strains of the Seoul virus. As far as I can tell from the HPA website, the Yorkshire case was the first known case of Seoul in the UK. Previous outbreaks were presumably caused by one of the other viruses. And as mentioned before this is not the virus that caused hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in the USA - that one is carried by deer mice and is unknown in Europe.

I wouldn't worry about your boys - all the evidence suggests that rodents don't get ill with this.

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