SAN DIEGO — A western harvest mouse found in Escondido tested positive for the potentially deadly hantavirus, San Diego County Vector Control officials announced Friday.
The mouse was found during routine monitoring of the area. Since January, Vector Control has collected multiple mice that have tested positive for the virus in areas of north and east county, including Julian, Fallbrook, Bonsall, Boulevard, 4S Ranch, Warner Springs and Potrero.
With each instance, county officials have reminded residents to avoid sweeping or vacuuming rodent droppings, which can push the virus into the air. Instead, residents are advised to use so-called “wet cleaning” methods like a diluted bleach spray, disinfectants or a sponge and a mop to clean up wild rodent matter like urine, feces and saliva. Cleansed areas should also remain well-ventilated to ensure the virus does not linger.
Hantavirus is not uncommon in San Diego County’s rural and undeveloped areas, but residents can avoid exposure by keeping rodents out of their homes, sheds and garages, according to Vector Control. Wild mice, in particular, are the virus’ main carriers.
There is no cure or vaccine for hantavirus, which can cause deadly infections. 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.
Residents can prevent exposure to hantavirus by sealing holes larger than a dime and quickly disposing of rodent debris in homes and adjacent structures.
The county’s Department of Environmental Health can be reached at 858-694-2888 for more information about avoiding hantavirus exposure and infection. In addition, residents can find more information on the virus on the San Diego County website.