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East County News Service

Information and photo courtesy of County News Service

February 8, 2023 (Campo) -- A deer mouse collected from an open nature area in Campo during routine monitoring has tested positive for the potentially deadly hantavirus.

This is the first case confirmed this year in San Diego County. Finding hantavirus in wild rodents is not uncommon in San Diego County, last year there were 11 cases locally.

The disease

While exposure to hantavirus is rare, people should be careful around wild rodents as there is no cure or vaccine for hantavirus. If you think that you may have been exposed to hantavirus, seek medical attention immediately.

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

Preventing Infection

People can be exposed to hantavirus when wild rodents invade their living area. Infected rodents shed the virus in their urine, poop and saliva. Once the matter dries, it can be stirred into the air where people could inhale the virus.

If people find wild rodents, nests or signs of them in their living spaces, they should always use “wet cleaning” methods — using bleach or other disinfectants, rubber gloves and bags. They should NOT sweep or vacuum, which could stir hantavirus into the air where it could be inhaled.

Avoid 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 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, thenlet 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.

For more information, contact the County Department of Environmental Health and Quality (DEHQ) at (858) 694-2888 or visit the DEHQ hantavirus web page.


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