Potentially deadly virus found in 3 wild mice in East County

Three deer mice in East County were found carrying the potentially deadly hantavirus. (Photo: County of San Diego)

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County Vector Control officials reminded residents Tuesday to protect themselves against wild rodents after three deer mice were found carrying the potentially deadly hantavirus.

Vector Control officials collected the mice in Boulevard during a regular monitoring exercise. Hantavirus occurrences in wild rodents are not uncommon in undeveloped areas of the county, but residents can avoid potentially infected rodents by keeping them out of areas like sheds, garages and homes.

Vector Control officials also found five hantavirus-carrying mice in Bonsall, 4S Ranch and Potrero in January.

There is no cure or vaccine for hantavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of infection can include fever, aches in the large muscle groups, dizziness, digestive issues and abdominal pain. Hantavirus infection is generally unlikely, though, because rodents tend to avoid humans and developed spaces.

Residents are advised to use “wet cleaning” methods like a bleach solution spray or a sponge and a mop if they find rodent droppings or nests. Sweeping or vacuuming nests and droppings can send the virus into the air, raising the chance of infection. Vector Control officials also advise residents to double-bag and seal rodent debris before throwing it away.

Residents can avoid hantavirus exposure by sealing holes that are larger than a dime in homes and adjacent spaces and quickly eliminating rodent debris and infestations. Residents can call the county’s Department of Environmental Health at (858) 694-2888 for more information about avoiding hantavirus infection.

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