County Vector Control confirmed today that a second wild mouse has tested positive for Hantavirus in San Diego County.
The mouse was trapped during routine Vector Control monitoring in the Tijuana River Valley area. Hantavirus is carried by wild rodents, primarily deer mice. The virus, found in rodent droppings and urine, can be inhaled by humans when it becomes airborne. The airborne virus can cause Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), which is a rare illness that can be fatal.
“While there is no specific treatment for Hantavirus, there are ways to avoid exposure to the virus. While spring cleaning indoors, do not stir up dust or materials that may be contaminated with rodent droppings and urine,” said Gary Erbeck, Director of the Department of Environmental Health. “Clean up rodent droppings and urine using the wet cleaning method.”
County Vector Control will be conducting follow-up trapping and testing, and the results of those efforts will be made public in a few weeks.
The first signs of illness caused by Hantavirus are similar to flu symptoms. They include fatigue, fever, muscle aches, headache, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Later symptoms of HPS include coughing, shortness of breath, which can rapidly progress to severe difficulty in breathing, and sometimes death.
Several precautions should be taken to avoid exposure:
• Rodent-proof your home and outbuildings.
• Avoid rodent infested areas and do not stir up dust or materials that may be contaminated with rodent droppings and urine.
• Clean up rodent droppings and urine using the wet cleaning method described below:
Do not sweep or vacuum. Instead, use wet cleaning methods:
• Ventilate affected area by opening doors and windows prior to entering and cleaning.
• Use rubber gloves. Spray a 10 percent bleach solution (2 tablespoons bleach to 1 cup of water) onto dead rodents, rodent droppings, nests, contaminated traps, and surrounding areas and let the disinfectant stand for at least 15 minutes before cleaning. Clean with a sponge or a mop.
• Place disinfected rodents and debris into two plastic bags, seal them and discard 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 bare hands with soap and water.
For more information, contact the County Department of Environmental Health at (858) 694-2888 or visit www.sdvector.com.