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Minimizing Risk for Human Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCMV) Virus
10 years ago

Apparently this has been a concern for some people, although I heven't heard of it myself. I got this off of the Rat Cites and Sites group on Yahoo and thought it was good info to have. I've added a couple of comments into the text [in brackets]. _____________________________________________________________________________ Minimizing Risk for Human Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCMV) Virus Infection Associated with Rodents Hamsters and other rodents are common pets, and the number of documented human LCMV infections from pet hamsters and other rodents is low. The probability of any one rodent being infected is low, and the highest risk of infection to a pet owner is around the time, soon after purchase of the pet rodent. It is estimated that 5% of the human population has already been infected with LCMV, and pet owners with existing pet rodents may already be immune to infection. In addition, most pet owners are at very low risk of serious infection with LCMV; many people who become infected never have symptoms of illness or have very mild, self-limited illness. With the exception of transmission by organ transplantation or by an infected mother to her fetus, person-to-person transmission of LCMV has not been documented. Because rodents might not always exhibit signs of ill health resulting from LCMV infection, the following precautions can reduce the risk for acquiring LCMV and other infections from pet rodents: CDC does not recommend testing pet rodents. There is no definitive test for a live animal that can provide reliable answers about its LCMV status. Destruction or return of recently purchased pet rodents is not recommended. The probability of any one animal harboring LCMV infection is low. All pets are potential carriers of infectious diseases and should always be handled by using appropriate precautions (see below, General Care of Pet Rodents). Pet rodents must not be released into the wild because release is inhumane, a potential infectious disease risk and a violation of New Jersey law [and most likely laws in other states as well]. Persons with specific concerns regarding the health of their pets should seek guidance from a veterinarian. Pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for serious outcomes if infected, so other persons without these risk factors should care for pet rodents. Higher risk persons who no longer wish to keep their pet rodents because of concern about possible infection transmission should discuss humane euthanasia [or adoption] with their veterinarians. Persons no longer wishing to keep their pet rodents should not release them to the wild or return them to the pet stores. If these pet rodents are donated to another family, the new family should be aware of the CDC guidance for handling of pets available at Testing for LCMV in humans Testing for LCMV infection in asymptomatic persons is not necessary. Similarly, testing persons with previous history of LCMV-compatible illness generally is not useful. Persons with active disease suggestive of LCMV should seek medical care and report any exposures to wild or pet rodents. A physician should determine whether testing for LCMV is indicated. Physicians should work closely with their respective state health departments to discuss forwarding of samples to state laboratories or CDC for testing. General care of pet rodents Pet animals, including rodents, can carry other human pathogens such as Salmonella. Good husbandry, veterinary care, and hand-washing are important for preventing transmission of multiple diseases. Anyone handling or keeping pet rodents should take the following precautions to reduce the risk for LCMV infection: Wash hands with soap and water (or alcohol-based hand sanitizers when soap is unavailable and hands are not visibly soiled) after handling pet rodents or cleaning up pet droppings, cages, or areas where pets have been. Keep rodent cages clean and free of soiled bedding. Clean cages outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Closely supervise young children when cleaning cages or handling rodents and supervise or assist children in washing their hands immediately after handling rodents and rodent cages or bedding. Never kiss or hold pet rodents close to the face. Never allow pet rodents to come into contact with wild rodents or their droppings or nests. . Cover pet rodent cages and food supplies and always supervise pet rodents when they are not in their cages. Purchasing a Healthy Pet Information on purchasing a healthy pet and the general steps to prevent pet rodents from bringing diseases into the home is available at Control of Wild Rodents Environmental modifications and hygiene practices that deter rodents from colonizing the home and work environment are the best means of reducing risk for exposure to infectious rodents. In addition, if rodents are found in work or living areas, safe practices for cleaning rodent waste and nesting materials are recommended. Preventing wild rodent entry also reduces opportunity for infection of pet rodents. Detailed instructions on rodent-proofing, safe cleaning practices and trapping wild rodents are available at