September 10, 2012
House Quarantined After Woman Contracts Hantavirus Cleaning For Reality TV Show
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A woman cleaning a house in Houston, Texas was admitted to an area hospital for treatment and observation after showing signs of an upper respiratory infection that officials are calling possible hantavirus. The woman had been cleaning the house for a future episode of TLC´s popular reality show “Hoarding: Buried Alive.”
The house in the Woodlands area of Houston is under quarantine, and has been since Friday. A deputy has remained outside the home keeping people at a safe distance from the residence. The woman, who is now recovering after her short stay in the hospital, had initially tested positive for hantavirus, but health officials said another test will be needed to confirm the disease, according to ABC News affiliate ABC13.
As many as 30 people--including cleanup and filming crew--had been in and out of the house over the past few weeks. Film producers declined to comment on the incident.
Hantavirus has already been making headlines after three people have so far died from hantavirus infection after visiting Yosemite National Park between June and August. It is too early to tell if the Houston case is related to the Yosemite infections. But because it can take up to six weeks for symptoms to appear, it is possible the woman picked up the virus elsewhere than the home in Houston. Still, officials are taking every precaution.
The virus is carried by rodents and is spread to humans through saliva, urine and feces, and can cause deadly hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The disease can be contracted by inhaling dust particles that contain the dried up particles of rodent droppings. Humans can also become infected by touching contaminated surfaces, eating contaminated food or being bit by an infected rodent. The disease is not transmissible between humans.
Montgomery County Medical Director Dr. Mark Escott said the house may offer “an extreme case of rodent infestation” and during cleaning, vacuuming, dusting, etc., it is easy to stir up the dust and inhale potential airborne illnesses like hantavirus.
“There's evidence of rodents, mice, snakes, possums in and around the home, which is not unusual in a hoarding situation because there's so much material,” Escott told MyFoxHouston. “It's impossible to keep it clean and track the rodent population.”
A state laboratory is now testing samples from the home; if samples come back positive for hantavirus, then state health officials and, possibly, the CDC, will get involved.
Escott told ABC13 that neighbors around the area should be on the lookout for rodents. “The best way to prevent spread of the disease is to control the rodents in the home. If rodents are found in the home, then they need to make sure that they use folks who are licensed to clean homes,” he added.
“If there were rodents in this home that potentially had hantavirus that means there are others in the community that are likely carrying the disease,” Escott warned.