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San Diego Mice Found Infected With Hantavirus

Eight mice infected with the deadly hantavirus have been found recently in Escondido, Santee and the San Diego neighborhood of Tierrasanta, the county Department of Environmental Health reported today.

Hantavirus caught by humans causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, which begins with flu-like symptoms but can escalate into severe breathing difficulties and even death in about 36 percent of the cases.

Infected rodents are not much of a health hazard in the wild, but when they venture inside homes, dust particles from droppings can transmit the disease to people.

The county emphasizes that the disease is difficult to catch, but people should take prudent steps to lower the risk.

"The most important thing people should remember if they find a rodent infestation is, don't sweep or vacuum," said Jack Miller, the DEH director. "People contract hantavirus by inhaling virus particles that can be stirred up in the air. So use a mixture of bleach and water or some other full strength disinfectant to clean up instead."

With spring approaching, people could come across rodent infestations as they open up mountain cabins, or clean out their garages or garden sheds, according to the DEH.

Hantavirus was found in 53 rodents across the county last year.

Tip on how to deal with rodents infestations is on the county's website.

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