RANCHO BERNARDO–A wild deer mouse trapped in Rancho Bernardo has tested positive for the potentially-deadly hantavirus, prompting San Diego County Vector Control officials to urge the public to prevent rodent infestations if they can and to be careful if they have to clean up nests, droppings and urine.
“Hantavirus can be deadly, but it is preventable. The best way to protect yourself from the disease is to keep mice out of houses, garages and sheds.” said Jack Miller, Director of the County Department of Environmental Health. “People should use wet-cleaning methods when cleaning up rodent droppings and nesting materials to prevent them from contracting the disease by inhaling dust particles that contain the virus.”
The mouse was the second rodent to test positive for the disease in San Diego County this month and the 20th this year, compared to 14 in 2009. Vector Control officials said more rodents have tested positive this year than in recent years because the region’s rodent population was swelled by a rainy winter and cool summer.
Vector Control randomly samples wild mice to determine the extent of the virus. Hantavirus is carried by wild rodents, primarily deer mice. The virus is found in rodent droppings and urine and can be inhaled by humans when it becomes airborne. The airborne virus can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), which can begin with symptoms similar to the flu, but in rare cases, can lead to severe breathing difficulties and even death. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for hantavirus.
For more information, contact the County Department of Environmental Health at (858) 694-2888 or visit http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/deh/pests/hantavirus.html.