Published On: Sat, Feb 23rd, 2013

Hantavirus positive mice prompt Riverside County to remind public of preventive measures

Riverside County Environmental officials are offering a reminder to the public on how to prevent hantavirus after three mice were confirmed positive for the virus during routine testing in January, according to a Department of Environmental Health news release Feb. 20.

Deer Mouse Image/CDC

Deer Mouse

Officials report that three out of 34 rodents collected in January from San Timoteo Canyon in the Norton Younglove Preserve near Beaumont have tested positive for hantavirus.

County officials stopped short of issuing a health alert, saying the discovery of the infected rodents was not unusual. They report that over the past decade, approximately 10 percent of the rodents collected in Riverside County have tested positive for hantavirus. This is fairly consistent with the average for California.

Environmental officials offer the following recommendation for the public to help reduce the risk of contracting hantavirus:

  • Ventilate affected areas for several hours before cleanup by opening doors and windows.
  • Use rubber gloves.
  • Apply a 10% solution of bleach or household disinfectant to contaminated surfaces and allow at least 15 minutes’ contact time before removal.
  • Clean the affected area with a sponge or mop. DO NOT SWEEP OR VACUUM.
  • Double-bag any dead rodents and clean-up materials (newspaper, paper towels, etc.) securely in plastic bags and seal.
  • Before removing gloves, wash gloved hands in disinfectant or with soap and water.
  • Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water after removing gloves. Dispose of gloves and cleanup materials with other household waste.

Hantavirus is a potentially life-threatening disease spread to humans by rodents that has symptomssimilar to influenza.

Rodents, especially deer mice, carry Hantavirus. The virus is found in their urine and feces, but it does not make the animal sick.

It is believed that humans can get sick with this virus if they come in contact with contaminated dust from mice nests or droppings. You may come in contact with the dust when cleaning homes, sheds, or other enclosed areas that have been empty for a long time.

Hantavirus does not spread between humans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) divides the symptoms of hantavirus between “early” and “late” symptoms.

Early symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups—thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders. These symptoms are universal.

There may also be headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, andabdominal pain. About half of all HPS patients experience these symptoms.

Four to 10 days after the initial phase of illness, the late symptoms of HPS appear. These include coughing and shortness of breath, with the sensation of, as one survivor put it, a “…tight band around my chest and a pillow over my face” as the lungs fill with fluid.

HPS has a mortality rate of 38% according to the agency.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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