By County News Center
San Diego, CA–A deer mouse collected in routine monitoring from an open area in Guatay near Pine Valley has tested positive for the potentially deadly hantavirus, public health officials said.
The County Department of Environmental Health and Quality is reminding people to never sweep up or vacuum up after wild rodents if they find them in living spaces, including homes, sheds, garages, and cabins.
Instead, people should use “wet-cleaning” methods to keep from breathing in the virus and getting sick.
Finding hantavirus in wild rodents is common in San Diego County. However, people rarely come into contact with hantavirus — which has no vaccine or cure — because wild rodents naturally want to avoid people.
People can be exposed to hantavirus when wild rodents invade people’s spaces. Infected rodents shed the virus in their urine, feces, and saliva. That matter dries and can be stirred into the air where people can breathe it in.
If people find wild rodents, nests, or signs of them in their living spaces and must clean them, 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.
Here are tips for people to prevent being exposed to wild rodents and hantavirus, and how to use wet-cleaning methods.
- 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 droppings and urine.
- Clean up rodent droppings and urine using the wet cleaning method described below.
- Do not sweep or vacuum infested areas.
- Ventilate affected areas by opening doors and windows for at least 30 minutes.
- Use rubber gloves. Spray a 10 percent 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.
- 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 at (858) 694-2888 or visit the hantavirus webpage.