Harvest mouse. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Two western harvest mice found in routine monitoring in Escondido and Rancho Bernardo are the first rodents this year to test positive for hantavirus, a potentially fatal disease, the county Department of Environmental Health reported Wednesday.

Hantavirus is found in area rodents occasionally, but rarely infects humans. However, if people breath it in, it can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, for which there is no vaccine or cure. 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.

Hantavirus is mainly carried by wild mice that spread the virus through saliva, urine and feces. If people sweep or vacuum up rodent droppings or nests, they can stir the dried virus up into the air, where they can breathe it in and get infected.

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

–City News Service

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