Brush mouse
A brush mouse in Southern California. Courtesy USGS

A brush mouse in Julian tested positive for the potentially deadly hantavirus, authorities reported Thursday.

County Vector Control officials said they found the mouse during routine monitoring of the area. They’ve collected multiple mice that have tested positive for the virus in areas of north and east county, including Fallbrook, Bonsall, Boulevard, 4S Ranch, Warner Springs and Potrero, since January.

With each instance, county officials have reminded residents to avoid sweeping or vacuuming rodent droppings, which can kick the virus up into the air. Instead, residents are advised to use so-called “wet cleaning” methods like a diluted bleach spray, disinfectants or a sponge and a mop to clean up wild rodent matter like urine, feces and saliva. Cleansed areas should also remain well-ventilated to ensure the virus does not linger.

Hantavirus is not uncommon in San Diego County’s rural and undeveloped areas, but residents can avoid exposure by keeping rodents out of their homes, sheds and garages, according to Vector Control. Wild mice, in particular, are the virus’ main carriers.

There is no cure or vaccine for hantavirus, which can cause deadly infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of infection can include fever, aches in the large muscle groups, dizziness, digestive issues and abdominal pain.

Residents can prevent exposure to hantavirus by sealing holes larger than a dime and quickly disposing of rodent debris in homes and adjacent structures.

The county’s Department of Environmental Health can be reached at 858-694-2888 for more information about avoiding hantavirus exposure and infection. In addition, residents can find more information on the virus online.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.