Six mice found with hantavirus in the Mount Laguna area, County says

Deer mouse of the species found with hantavirus. Photo via the San Diego County News Center

Five deer mice and one brush mouse collected during routine surveillance in the Mount Laguna area tested positive for hantavirus, the county’s environmental authorities said Thursday.

District officials reminded residents that if they find rodents in their homes, garages, sheds or shacks, they should never sweep or vacuum them, but instead use “wet cleaning methods” to avoid breathing in the virus and getting sick.

It’s not uncommon to find hantaviruses in wild rodents in San Diego County – there were 25 records in 2020 and 42 in 2019 – but humans are rarely exposed to it. The virus can cause fatal infections in humans, and there is no vaccine or cure.

Humans can be exposed to the hantavirus when wild rodents excrete it in their urine, feces, and saliva, the matter dries and is blown into the air where humans can breathe it.

To avoid exposure, residents should seal any external holes larger than a dime in homes, garages, and sheds to prevent rodent entry, promptly clear rodent infestations, avoid rodent-infested areas, and avoid dust or materials stir up any rodent feces and urine that may be contaminated and clean up rodent feces using the wet cleaning method.

The method consists of:

– Ventilate the affected area by opening doors and windows for at least 30 minutes;

– Using gloves and spraying a 10% bleach solution or other disinfectant on dead rodents, rodent droppings, nests, contaminated traps, and surrounding areas, and let the disinfectant sit for at least 15 minutes before cleaning;

– cleaning with a sponge or mop soaked in disinfectant;

– put disinfected rodents and debris in two plastic bags, seal them and throw them in the trash, wash gloves in a bleach solution, then soap and water and dispose of them using the same double bag method; and

– Thorough hand washing with soap and water.

–City news service

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