Mice found with hantavirus in East County

Health

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Five deer mice and one brush mouse collected in routine monitoring in the Mount Laguna area have tested positive for hantavirus, county environmental health officials announced Thursday.

County officials reminded residents that if they find rodents in their homes, garages, sheds or cabins, they should never sweep up or vacuum up after them, but use “wet-cleaning” methods instead, to keep from breathing in the virus and getting sick.

It is not uncommon to find hantavirus in wild rodents in San Diego County — there were 25 detections in 2020 and 42 in 2019 — but people are rarely exposed to it. The virus can cause deadly infections in people and there is no vaccine or cure.

People can be exposed to hantavirus when wild rodents shed it in their urine, feces and saliva, the matter dries and is stirred into the air where people can breathe it in.

To avoid exposure, residents should seal up all external holes larger than a dime in homes, garages and sheds to keep rodents from getting in, eliminate rodent infestations immediately, avoid rodent-infested areas and not stir up dust or materials that may be contaminated with rodent droppings and urine and clean up rodent droppings with the wet-cleaning method.

The method consists of:

  • ventilating the affected area by opening doors and windows for at least 30 minutes;
  • using gloves and spraying a 10% bleach solution or other disinfectants onto dead rodents, rodent droppings, nests, contaminated traps and surrounding areas and let the disinfectant stand for at least 15 minutes before cleaning;
  • cleaning with a sponge or mop that has been soaked in disinfectant;
  • placing disinfected rodents and debris into two plastic bags, sealing them and discarding in the trash, washing gloves in a bleach solution, then soap and water, and disposing of them using the same double-bag method; and
  • thoroughly washing hands with soap and water.

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