The Sacramento District Review – July 2013

In this Month’s Issue:
Hantavirus in the Southwest
Guided Hikes & Evening Lecture Series
Slash Pit Schedule
Kids Corner

The Sacramento District Review is a monthly newsletter prepared by the Sacramento Ranger District of the Lincoln National Forest.


Hantavirus in the Southwest

-Mark Cadwallader

Deer mice are between 4” – 9” long and are the primary carriers of hantavirus in the southwest US.

Deer mice are between 4” – 9” long and are the
primary carriers of hantavirus in the southwest US.

For those of us that live or recreate in rural areas like the Lincoln National Forest, it is important that we are aware of hantavirus and the necessary precautions we all should be taking. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the southwestern part of the United States is the most prevalent location for hantavirus.  While other rodents may carry the hantavirus, deer mice (Peromyscus spp.) are the primary carriers in the southwest.  Although the disease is rare and typically occurs in isolated cases, it is potentially fatal. The following questions and answers are designed to help increase knowledge and awareness of hantavirus, particularly as it relates to activities on national forest lands.


Q:  Does hantavirus exist in our area? 

A:  Yes, the potential for hantavirus exists across most of the United States. It is known to occur in New Mexico.


Q: How is hantavirus contracted?

A:  Hantavirus is found in the feces, urine, or saliva of infected rodents.  Hantavirus is contracted primarily through respiratory inhalation, however, people can become infected when they touch infected rodent feces or nesting materials, and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth before washing their hands.


Q: Can people get hantavirus from other people? 

A: No, hantavirus is only transmitted from rodents to humans and not human to human.


Q:  What are clean-up guidelines for minor infested areas?

A: Do not stir up dust by vacuuming, sweeping, or any other means. Air out rodent infested buildings or areas for a minimum of 30 minutes before entering area.  For minor infested areas, use disposable gloves, a long sleeve shirt and pants. Spray contaminated materials with bleach or a disinfectant solution and allow it to soak in 5-10 minutes before cleaning.

Double bag contaminated material for disposal.


Q:  What are clean-up guidelines for heavily infested areas? 

A: In areas heavily infested with rodents or situations where ventilation and/or wet clean-up cannot be effectively accomplished, it is not advised to attempt to clean up the site.  It is highly recommended to seek professional help for cleaning the infested areas.



Q:  After being exposed to hantavirus, what is the lead time for becoming sick?

A:  According to the CDC, it takes anywhere from one to five weeks to develop symptoms of hantavirus.   Should you develop symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.  Make sure to tell your doctor that you may have been exposed to hantavirus.


Q: Do you know what the symptoms of hantavirus are?

A: Symptoms include muscle aches, chills, fever, cough, tight chest feeling, shortness of breath, and diarrhea.


Q: Can we detect hantavirus in humans? 

A:  Humans can be tested for hantavirus through two different tests, the IGM (Immunoglobulin M) or IGG (Immunoglobulin G).  According to the CDC website, these tests only verify if antibodies have developed in the human body as resistance to the virus. These tests are not meant to prevent or vaccinate humans against the virus.   The tests that are used to detect hantavirus are available only after advanced stages of the virus have already affected the person.


Q: Do you know where to find additional information?  

A: To learn more about the disease, how it spreads, methods of infection, and carriers of the disease, etc., extensive information can be found on the Center for Disease Control website:


So, before you clean out that musty, dusty garage, shed, or barn, or enter an old dilapidated building, become aware of your surroundings with regard to the potential for hantavirus and take the time and prep work to stay safe and healthy.



Guided Hikes

Forest Service volunteers will be leading guided hikes each Saturday this summer.  Stop by or call the district office at 575-682-2551 for a schedule of hikes and sign up information.  Along with our regular volunteers, the July 20th hike will feature Lynn Melton and will include an exploration of the old railroad bed and roads along Piney Woods and Toboggan Canyon.  All hikes begin with a brief orientation at our district office and hikers will need to provide their own transportation to and from the trailheads which are all within a couple of miles of Cloudcroft. Happy Hiking!!!


Evening Lecture Series

The July 11th lecture, “Wood Products – Trees to Boards” by Mickey Mauter will be presented 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. at the Sacramento Ranger Station, #4 Lost Lodge Rd. in Cloudcroft.

Upcoming Lectures:

Aug. 8th – Bats of the Sacramento Mountains

 Sept. 12th – Exotic Plant Species-Friend or Foe?


Slash Pit Schedule

Sat., July 13th & 20th


Dates and times could change due to weather conditions or unexpected complications.
Limbs, branches & brush only. No trash or construction materials.


Kids Corner

July 2013 Kid's Corner

Leave a Reply