Recent Biohazard Posts

PPE should be worn during cleanup of animal droppings

7/16/2018 (Permalink)

Tech with full PPE

Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by breathing in spores of a fungus often found in bird and bat droppings. Histoplasmosis is most commonly transmitted when these spores become airborne, often during cleanup or demolition projects.

Soil contaminated by bird or bat droppings also can transmit histoplasmosis, so farmers and landscapers are at a higher risk of contracting the disease. In the United States, histoplasmosis commonly occurs in the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys, though it can occur in other areas, too.


Most people with histoplasmosis never develop symptoms and aren't aware they're infected. But for some people — primarily infants and those with compromised immune systems — histoplasmosis can be serious. Effective treatments are available for even the most severe forms of histoplasmosis.



Several types of histoplasmosis exist. The mildest form produces no signs or symptoms, but severe infections can be life-threatening. When signs and symptoms do occur, they usually appear three to 17 days after exposure and may include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Dry cough
  • Chest discomfort

In some people, histoplasmosis can also produce joint pain and a rash. People who have an underlying lung disease, such as emphysema, may develop a chronic form of histoplasmosis.

Signs of chronic histoplasmosis may include weight loss and a cough that brings up blood. The symptoms of chronic histoplasmosis sometimes can mimic those of tuberculosis.

Severe histoplasmosis

The most severe variety of histoplasmosis occurs primarily in infants and in people with compromised immune systems. Called disseminated histoplasmosis, this variety can affect nearly any part of your body, including your mouth, liver, central nervous system, skin and adrenal glands. If untreated, disseminated histoplasmosis is usually fatal.

When to see a doctor

Contact your doctor if you develop flu-like symptoms after being exposed to bird or bat droppings — especially if you have a weakened immune system.

Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic


Histoplasmosis is caused by the reproductive cells (spores) of the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. The spores are extremely light and float into the air when dirt or other contaminated material is disturbed.

Even if you've had histoplasmosis in the past, you can still get the infection again. However, if you contract histoplasmosis again, the illness will likely be milder than the initial infection.

The histoplasmosis fungus thrives in damp soil that's rich in organic material, especially the droppings from birds and bats. For that reason, it's particularly common in chicken and pigeon coops, old barns, caves and parks. Histoplasmosis isn't contagious, so it can't be spread from person to person.

Risk factors

The chances of developing histoplasmosis symptoms increase with the number of spores you inhale. Professions with a higher likelihood of spore exposure include:

  • Farmers
  • Pest control workers
  • Poultry keepers
  • Construction workers
  • Roofers
  • Landscapers and gardeners
  • Cave explorers

Most at risk of severe infection

Children younger than age 2 and adults age 55 and older have weaker immune systems, so they're more likely to develop disseminated histoplasmosis — the most serious form of the disease. Other factors that can weaken your immune system include:

  • HIV or AIDS
  • Intensive cancer chemotherapy
  • Corticosteroid drugs, such as prednisone
  • Tumor necrosis factor inhibitors, often used to control rheumatoid arthritis
  • Medications that prevent rejection of organ transplants


Histoplasmosis can cause a number of serious complications, even in otherwise healthy people. For infants, older adults and people with compromised immune systems, the potential problems are often life-threatening. Complications can include:

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Histoplasmosis can damage lungs to the point that the air sacs begin filling with fluid. This prevents efficient air exchange and can deplete oxygen levels in the blood.
  • Heart problems. Inflammation of the pericardium, the sac that surrounds your heart, is called pericarditis. When the fluid in this sac increases, it can interfere with the heart's ability to pump blood efficiently.
  • Adrenal insufficiency. Histoplasmosis can harm your adrenal glands, which produce hormones that give instructions to virtually every organ and tissue in your body.
  • Meningitis. In some cases, histoplasmosis can cause meningitis, an infection and inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain and spinal cord.


It's difficult to prevent exposure to the fungus that causes histoplasmosis, especially in areas where the disease is widespread. Even so, these steps may help reduce the risk of infection:

  • Avoid exposure. Avoid projects and activities that might expose you to the fungus, such as cave exploring and raising birds, such as pigeons or chickens.
  • Spray contaminated surfaces. Before you dig soil or work in an area that could harbor the fungus that causes histoplasmosis, spray it thoroughly with water. This can help prevent spores from being released into the air. Spraying chicken coops and barns before cleaning them also can reduce your risk.
  • Use an effective face mask. Wear a respirator mask. Consult the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to determine which type of mask will provide adequate protection for your level of exposure.

How to get rid of mice

6/6/2017 (Permalink)

Mice Droppings in your home

Mice can be cute and some people – especially children – like to keep one or two as pets. But when mice invade a home uninvited, they are anything but cute!

There’s good reason to evict them as soon as possible. Mice can be dangerous to your health, as they can carry several diseases and transmit them via their urine and feces. Well, not to mention the extensive damage they can do with their sharp teeth.

Being rapid reproducers, their population can grow quickly and soon you will find the tiny animals running here, there and everywhere.

To control a mice infestation, some prefer to just hand the problem off to a pest control professional. But that can be an expensive affair that doesn’t fit into everyone’s budget. Plus, they may use chemical-based products that could introduce toxins into your home.

To show the exit door to these disease-carrying rodents, there are many simple and easy tips that you can try on your own.

Here are the top 10 ways to get rid of mice.

  1. Deprive Them of Food

Mice enter your home in search of food, and they will stay around as long as food is available. Hence, depriving them of food is one logical way to deal with the uninvited guests.

  1. Seal All Openings

Another effective way to control the growth of rodents in your house is by sealing off all the small openings and cracks in your home. This way they will not be able to enter your house.

  1. Relocate them using Humane Mouse Traps

Humane or live mouse traps are one of the best ways to catch roaming mice in your premises. These traps catch and hold live mice, and they are not as inhumane as snap traps and glue traps that kill the mice.

4. Push Them Away with Peppermint Oil

You can use peppermint oil to get rid of mice. Mice are very sensitive to smells, and they find the smell of peppermint oil very overwhelming and offensive.

5. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper works as a great non-poisonous solution to deter pests like mice, squirrels, ants and other bugs. This is because most pests do not like its strong smell.

6. Use Kitty Litter

Mice fear cats because they are their natural predators. The smell of kitty litter is enough to drive the mice away.

7. Get a Pet

If you have a cat, then your work is half done. Cats or other predatory pets can help chase rodents out of your house. In fact, terrier dog breeds are often trained for pest control.

8. Discourage Them with Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus also works as an effective natural mice repellent.

9. Get an Ultrasonic Repellent Machine

Ultrasonic repellent machines are also an effective method to get rid of rodents. These machines send out small beeps that not only annoy but also scare off mice. These beeps cannot be heard by humans.

10. Keep a Clean House

Keeping your house clean will not make it mouse-proof, but a messy house will attract them and permit them to thrive in greater numbers. Hence, a clean house is a small but important step toward your effort to show the rodents the door.

After the mice have been controlled, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to assist you with the clean up. Our specially trained technicians will clean up the hazardous mice droppings.