Two western harvest mice tested positive for the potentially deadly hantavirus in the Fairbanks Ranch area of San Diego County, according to environmental health officials. This prompted officials to remind people to be careful whenever they find signs of rodents living in homes, sheds and garages.


Officials said hantavirus is common in San Diego County, but people have very little chance of being exposed to it as long as wild rodents remain out of people’s living spaces.

Infected rodents shed hantavirus through their saliva, urine and feces. Officials said people should never try to sweep or vacuum up rodent nests or droppings in homes and work places because it could stir hantavirus into the air where it can be breathed in if rodents are infected.

“The best way to protect yourself is to avoid being exposed to rodents, by keeping them out of the areas you live in and work in,” said County Director of the Department of Environmental Health, Elizabeth Pozzebon. “But if you have to clean an area, be sure to use ‘wet-cleaning’ methods — ventilate areas, spray them with bleach solutions or disinfectants and use sponges and mops.”

People who inhale the hantavirus can develop hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, which starts with flu-like symptoms but can grow into severe breathing difficulties that can kill. There is no vaccine or cure for hantavirus. The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that hantavirus kills nearly 40 percent of the people who get it.

Read more about hantavirus HERE

LISTEN: Hantavirus and tularemia: Discussions with two prominent Public Health Veterinarians