Western harvest mouse like that found with hantavirus.
Western harvest mouse like that found with hantavirus. Image via County News Center

Two deer mice collected during routine vector surveillance activities in Boulevard — a census-designated place near Manzanita in southeastern San Diego County — have tested positive for hantavirus, county environmental health officials announced Wednesday.

While this is the first detection of hantavirus in the region this year, the virus is not uncommon in San Diego County, officials said. In 2020, 25 rodents collected in routine monitoring by County Vector Control tested positive for hantavirus.

There is no cure or vaccine for hantavirus and it can potentially cause deadly infections in people. People can be exposed to hantavirus when wild rodents shed it in their urine, feces and saliva, the matter dries and is stirred into the air where people can breathe it in.

However, people are rarely exposed to the virus because the main carriers are wild rodents who prefer to live in the wild away from humans.

“If you find rodents in or near your home, do not touch the animals and refrain from sweeping up or vacuuming up after them,” said Amy Harbert, director of the Department of Environmental Health and Quality. “Instead, use a wet-cleaning method to keep from breathing in the virus and getting sick.”

Recommended wet cleaning methods include the use of bleach, disinfectants, rubber gloves and bags.

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