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Hantavirus and the Classic Car

JKeppy jkeppy at aol.com
Sun Dec 3 05:00:49 EST 1995

This is a question about the risks of hantavirus exposure in a particular
situation.  I have an oldish Lancia which has been stored for some years
in a barn on Lummi Island in northern Puget Sound.  All was well until I
rented the adjacent land for pasturage and the resident mouse population
moved into the car.  It is infested with two nests and dropping here and
there on the floor.  Nest materials came from the inside of the seats so I
suspect there are droppings in places it would be very tough to sanitize.
     I have inquired with  an island naturalist and found out that the
mice are likely deer mice, likely infected.  I have also been told by a
public health official that the feces are only infected for 48 hours after
having been dropped and that if I could kill the resident mice and
isolated the car for 48 hours it would be safe to go in and clean up and
tow the thing home.  After considerable phone calling I have not found
this 48 hour theory confirmed by anyone else and have generally been
warned against attempting a cleanup.  I have carefully put poisons in the
car a couple times and they get consumed.  Given the apparent risks of
moving the virus around in such an enclosed space, I am loth to do more
without real assurance that there is a safe way to do it.  If you have
thoughts about this odd predicament, I would be very grateful for them. 
It's a pretty car.
Thanks, John Keppelman.

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