A mouse trapped recently in Campo during routine monitoring has tested positive for the hantavirus, the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health announced Thursday.
According to the Department of Environmental Health, hantavirus is a rare but deadly airborne disease that humans catch from infected rodents. About 35 percent of people who contract the virus die from it.
The infection typically occurs when airborne virus particles from rodent droppings are inhaled. Wild rodents -- mainly deer mice –can carry hantavirus and shed it through their saliva, urine and feces. The virus doesn’t spread from person to person, according to the Department.
If inhaled by humans, the virus can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, an illness that begins with flu-like symptoms but can lead to severe breathing complications and even death.
County officials say it’s normal to find rodents carrying hantavirus in San Diego County, but they rarely pose a threat to people if they remain in the wild.
Still, county officials urge people to protect themselves when cleaning up after rodents that they may find in their homes or properties.
The best ways to prevent exposure to hantavirus include eliminating rodent infestations immediately, avoiding rodent-infested areas and cleaning up rodent droppings and urine using a “wet-cleaning” method to prevent inhaling the virus.
County officials say areas riddled with rodent droppings should be ventilated for 30 minutes. Then, a solution combining two tablespoons of bleach to one cup of water should be used on dead rodents, droppings, nests or contaminated rodent traps.
After at least 15 minutes, the area covered in the bleach solution should be wiped down with a sponge or mop. The debris should be disposed of inside two sealed plastic bags.
County officials say this "wet-cleaning" method should be used instead of sweeping or vacuuming infested areas, as that can stir up potential hantavirus particles into the air that could be inhaled.
For more information about hantavirus, click here.