Stuttgart school closed, disinfected due to virus threat
May 12, 2007
STUTTGART, Germany — Patch High School was closed on Friday so cleaners could disinfect the building because of a virus threat.
One of the school’s teachers was recently hospitalized with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a potentially fatal illness. Hantavirus is carried by rodents such as mice and rats and is transmitted into the atmosphere through rodents’ urine, saliva and droppings.
The teacher during spring break had discovered rodent droppings in a wood storage area adjacent to the school that is off-limits to students, according to a letter to parents from the school’s principal, Susan Page. Rodent droppings also were found under the sink in one classroom, which was then closed.
Patch Elementary School, located next door, is scheduled to be disinfected over the weekend.
Page said that it wasn’t established that the teacher had contracted hantavirus at the school.
“We just have to take as many preventive measures as we can,” Page said.
The high school, which backs up to a wooded area, has been subjected to rodents before, Page said. Extermination and cleaning in the past had been done room by room. This is the first time the entire school has been closed for disinfecting.
The most common rodent found at the school is the dormouse, which is not a carrier of the virus, Page said. She also said the mild winter had increased the risk of hantavirus.
Humans contract hantavirus by breathing in the virus after rodent excretions are disturbed, according to the National Center for Infectious Diseases. It also can be transmitted through broken skin, or when the virus comes into contact with the nose or mouth.
The virus cannot be transmitted from person to person, according to the center.
In addition to disinfecting, the schools are scheduled for a follow-up cleaning as well as blocking holes where rodents can enter the school.
“We’re trying to be proactive,” Page said.
For more infromation on the hantavirus, visit this Web site: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/ hanta/hps.