A hantavirus quarantine has been issued for a home in the Houston suburb known as The Woodlands. The home, which was featured on the TLC reality show Hoarding: Buried Alive, was recently cleaned out by 29 people. One of them, the daughter of the homeowner, became ill two weeks ago and was diagnosed with hantavirus.
The hantavirus quarantine has been in effect for more than 24 hours. A sherriff’s deputy is currently guarding the home, which was filled with mouse feces in addition to the piles of clutter removed by the cleanup crew. Hantavirus is spread through mice, specifically through exposure to mouse excrement.
The presence of rodent offal is “not unusual in a hoarding situation because there's so much material,” Dr. Mark Escott of the Montgomery County Health Department told a local news source. “It's impossible to keep it clean and track the rodent population.” Escott added that the other members of the cleanup crew have been notified of the hantavirus quarantine so that they can get tested for the disease.
During the cleanup of the Hoarding home, hundreds of books were donated to the Friends of the Houston Library, a nonprofit organization that sells used books with proceeds going to the public library system. The organization had not yet sold any of the donated books by the time the hantavirus quarantine was issued. Friends of the Houston Library “reacted immediately and proactively by isolating as many books as possible,” according to a statement from the organization.
The hantavirus quarantine is unlikely to affect surrounding homes. The virus, which is fatal in about a third of cases, is not contagious and can only be spread through contact with the carrier substance.