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Rodent collected in Chula Vista tests positive for hantavirus, first in 2022

CDC warns that the pandemic may be causing rodent infestations
Posted at 3:16 PM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 18:16:22-05

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (CNS) — A rodent collected in an open, rural area in Chula Vista has tested positive for hantavirus, the first local detection of the disease in 2022, it was announced Friday.

The wild vole -- a small, mouse-like rodent -- was collected in routine monitoring and prompted county officials to 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 instead to keep from breathing in the virus and getting sick.

It is not uncommon to find hantavirus in wild rodents in San Diego County -- there were 10 detections in 2021, following 25 detections in 2020 and 42 in 2019 -- but people are rarely exposed to it because wild rodents tend to live away from people. The virus can cause deadly infections in people and there is no vaccine or cure.

People can be exposed to hantavirus when wild rodents shed the virus in their urine, feces, and saliva, the matter dries, is stirred into the air and people breathe it in.

To avoid exposure, residents should seal up all external holes larger than a dime in homes, garages, and sheds to keep rodents from getting in, eliminate rodent infestations immediately, avoid rodent-infested areas and not stir up dust or materials that may be contaminated with rodent droppings and urine and clean up rodent droppings with the wet-cleaning method.

The method consists of:

-- ventilating the affected area by opening doors and windows for at least 30 minutes;

-- using gloves and spraying a 10% 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;

-- cleaning with a sponge or mop that has been soaked in disinfectant;

-- placing disinfected rodents and debris into two plastic bags, sealing them and discarding in the trash, washing gloves in a bleach solution, then soap and water, and disposing of them using the same double-bag method; and

-- thoroughly washing hands with soap and water.