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Hantavirus Found In San Diego Rodents

The potentially deadly disease hantavirus was found in a wild harvest mouse trapped for testing at Torrey Pines State Park, San Diego County vector control officials announced today.

So far, 21 rodents, 19 of them mice, have tested positive for hantavirus this year, compared to 14 last year.

When the virus becomes airborne and is inhaled, it causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, with symptoms similar to the flu. In some cases, it can lead to severe breathing difficulties and death.

"People contract hantavirus by inhaling dust particles containing the virus from rodent droppings and nesting materials," said Jack Miller, director of the county Department of Environmental Health. "The best way to prevent the disease is to keep mice out of houses, garages and sheds."

Miller said infected mice rarely pose a health threat for people if they remain in the wild, but that changes when they get indoors and people come in contact with their droppings.

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