Harvest mouse. Photo by Reg Mckenna via Wki Commons

A wild harvest mouse trapped near Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad during routine monitoring tested positive for hantavirus, which can cause a potentially fatal disease in humans, the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health reported Tuesday.

Hantavirus is found in area rodents occasionally, but it rarely infects humans. However, if people breath it in, it can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. The disease, with flu-like symptoms, is fatal in about 40 percent of cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“People have very little chance of being exposed to hantavirus if they keep wild rodents out of their homes and workplaces,” San Diego DEH Director Elizabeth Pozzebon said. “If you do find rodents inside your home, never sweep or vacuum up rodent droppings. Use wet cleaning methods instead if you have to clean an infestation.”

Infected rodents shed hantavirus through their saliva, urine and feces. The reason officials say people should never sweep or vacuum up rodent droppings is because it could stir hantavirus into the air where people could breathe it in.

The county has a description of how to clean up after rodents on its website.

Ordinary house mice don’t carry hantavirus, but rodents in rural areas can have the disease, according to the DEH.

— City News Service

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