Mar 17

The Montauk Man Who Died From Mouse Bacteria

It’s almost spring again. Whether you are getting ready for some spring cleaning or preparing for a serious home inspection, be careful. Basements and crawl spaces can be deadly. Cancer-causing asbestos crumbs are sometimes found falling off of old heating pipes. Rare and malicious killer molds may be found slowly meandering throughout crawl spaces in the moist ocean air. And, last but not least, fatal fumes from deadly mouse microbes may be lingering in the air unnoticeable by the human eye. The following video clip outlines some tragic stories of Long Islander’s who lost their jobs. Dr. David Hartstein’s case is particularly sad because he also lost his life after he lost his job and his house.

It wasn’t very long ago, June 2011, that Dr. Hartstein was infected with a rare but deadly virus that was disseminated from infected mouse waste that was inhaled in a home crawl space in Montauk, NY. A CBS report of the incident states that the virus is deadly, but rare. ” NYC Health notes, “There have been two cases in New York State residents, both due to exposures on Long Island.”

“The disease is fatal in 38 percent of all cases, but it’s so rare there have been only four in New York in the past 17 years. Health officials said the virus was first identified in the Southwest in 1993. Nationwide, there have been only 568 cases.”

The symptoms aren’t particularly unique, and could apply to a lot of possible viruses:

“Symptoms of hantavirus include high fever, muscle aches, coughing and headache — which may appear between one and five weeks after exposure to the virus.”

If you have business to do in a basement or crawl space, the following advice is offered:

“Health officials said the best way to prevent exposure to hantavirus is to avoid contact with rodent droppings or urine, prevent infestation in the home and set traps inside empty containers to prevent contact with possibly contaminated materials… Wear gloves and a mask and aerate where you are,”

What’s particularly tragic and heart-wrenching about David Hartstein’s situation is the context. He was a 35-year-old husband and father of three who had been unemployed, was cleaning out his house due to foreclosure, and then to top it off he became infected with a deadly virus. When interviewed about her husband’s death and how it became a part of an HBO-televised documentary film, “Hard Times: Lost on Long Island”, David’s widow Heather emphasized the importance of optimism in life: “I want people to take away from our story [and the film] the realization that when you think you’ve hit rock bottom, you make a conscious decision to be joyful and not get swallowed by a sense of helplessness. . . .” The trailer to the film is at this link:

Tags: Montauk killer disease, Montauk mouse virus killed man, home safety, Long Island Hantavirus, David Hartstein, documentary of hard life on Long Island, basement & crawl space hazards