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Hantavirus Squeaks Positive

 

Last updated 5/10/2023 at 10:56am



A deer mouse collected during routine monitoring from a rural area near Boulevard in San Diego County has tested positive for the potentially deadly hantavirus.

The last reported deer mouse finding was in Warner Springs on July 25, 2019, and three deer mice and one brush mouse did test positive for the virus in Santa Ysabel that year. Borrego Springs and Julian remain clear so far.

Although the hantavirus is not uncommon in the rural and undeveloped areas of the county, people are not likely to be exposed to it so long as they keep wild rodents out of their living spaces and structures like their homes, garages, sheds, and cabins. Wild rodents, wild mice specifically, are the leading carriers of the virus.

Officials remind everyone the hantavirus is an airborne virus, is not passed from one person to another, nor caught by touching an infected rodent

Even though exposure to the virus is rare, people should be careful around wild rodents because there is no cure or vaccine for hantavirus. People should be particularly aware in spring because many people use the warming temperatures to clean garages, sheds and outbuildings.

Infected rodents shed the hantavirus in their urine, feces and saliva. Once the matter dries, it can be stirred into the air where people can inhale the virus.

Symptoms

Symptoms of hantavirus usually develop between 1-8 weeks after exposure and include:

Severe muscle aches.

Chills, fever or fatigue.

Headache or dizziness.

Nausea, vomiting or stomach pain.

Difficulty breathing.

Avoiding Exposure to Hantavirus

Seal up all external holes in homes, garages, and sheds larger than a dime to keep rodents from getting in.

Eliminate rodent infestations immediately.

Avoid rodent-infested areas and do not stir up dust or materials that may be contaminated with rodent poop and urine.

Clean up rodent poop and urine using the “wet cleaning” methods described below.

“Wet-cleaning” Methods

Do not sweep or vacuum infested areas.

Ventilate the affected area by opening doors and windows for at least 30 minutes before starting to clean.

Use rubber gloves. Spray a 10 percent bleach solution or other disinfectants onto dead rodents, rodent poop, nests, contaminated traps and surrounding areas, then let the disinfectant stand for at least 15 minutes before cleaning.

Clean with a sponge or a mop that has been soaked in disinfectant.

Place disinfected rodents and debris into two plastic bags, seal them and discard them in the trash.

Wash gloves in a bleach solution, then soap and water, and dispose of them using the same double-bag method.

Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water.

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