A potentially deadly disease in 2022 was detected in a small rodent in a rural area of Chula Vista during routine monitoring.
San Diego county officials announced on Friday that a wild vole, a small, mouse-like rodent, tested positive for hantavirus. This is the first local detection in 2022.
County officials remind people to never sweep up or vacuum up after wild rodents if they find them in their homes, garages, sheds, cabins, or other living spaces. People should use “wet-cleaning” methods to avoid contagion of the air-born disease.
It is uncommon for people to encounter hantavirus because rodents tend to stay away from people. County officials say that finding hantavirus is not uncommon in San Diego County.
Exposure can occur when wild rodents shed hantavirus in their urine, feces, and saliva. As their excrement dries, it may be stirred into the air and people breathe it in.
There is no vaccine or cure for hantavirus.
Residents are advised to always use “wet cleaning” methods such as using bleach and disinfectant while using rubber gloves and bags. These methods should be used when finding wild rodents, nests, or signs of them in their living spaces.
County officials strongly advise against sweeping or vacuuming the waste, which could stir hantavirus into the air where it could be inhaled.
The following methods were provided by county officials to prevent exposure:
- Seal up all external holes in homes, garages, and sheds larger than a dime to keep rodents from getting in.
- Eliminate rodent infestations immediately.
- Avoid rodent-infested areas and do not stir up dust or materials that may be contaminated with rodent droppings and urine.
- Clean up rodent droppings and urine using the wet cleaning method described below.
“Wet-cleaning” methods to prevent inhalation of hantavirus
- Do not sweep or vacuum infested areas.
- Ventilate the affected area by opening doors and windows for at least 30 minutes.
- Use rubber gloves. Spray a 10 percent bleach solution or other disinfectants onto dead rodents, rodent droppings, nests, contaminated traps, and surrounding areas and let the disinfectant stand for at least 15 minutes before cleaning.
- Clean with a sponge or a mop that has been soaked in disinfectant.
- Place disinfected rodents and debris into two plastic bags, seal them and discard in the trash.
- Wash gloves in a bleach solution, then soap and water, and dispose of them using the same double-bag method.
- Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water.
Residents are advised to contact the County Department of Environmental Health and Quality (DEHQ) at (858) 694-2888 or visit the DEHQ hantavirus web page for more information.