A deer mouse infected with the hantavirus was captured in the Inaja memorial Park, which sparked worry in the residents of San Diego. As this is the first case of hantavirus reported this year, the officials are in a state of alert as the virus is known as being potentially deadly, with no vaccines or cure found for it.
As the authorities mentioned that there have been other instances of the hantavirus being identified in the County, the state of worry comes from the fact that it has never been found so close to people, as it is most commonly carried by wild mice. Being found in the vicinity of people’s homes and leisure environments, the danger of the virus being caught by people became real and immediate.
The virus is stored in the secretions of the rodents (saliva, urine and feces) and it can reach people when dried particles of these secretions are airborne and inhaled. This is one of the reasons why the residents of San Diego are advised to avoid using brooms or vacuums to clean rodent nests, and appeal to wet-cleaning methods instead.
The hantavirus is known to have been fatal for approximately 40 percent of the people who were infected with the virus, as there is no known cure for it. The symptomatology includes intense muscle aches, headaches or vertigo, cold chills, nausea and breathing difficulties.
However, the county officials issued a list of guidelines that should be followed by the residents of San Diego in order to reduce exposure to the hantavirus:
- Identify and block any holes in the walls of the buildings, to prevent rodents from entering.
- Immediately eliminate rodent infestation.
- Avoid areas infested by rodents and avoid inhaling dust or coming in contact with materials potentially contaminated by rodent secretions.
- Use a wet-cleaning method to disinfect a rodent infested area.
- Clear the air in the affected area by keeping windows and doors open for more than 30 minutes.
- Using rubber gloves, use disinfectant solutions or bleach to spray the area affected by rodents. Wait at least 15 minutes for the solution to take effect before cleaning the area with a sponge or mop.
- Use double plastic bags to dispose of the rodents and their debris, and of the gloves (it is advised to first wash them in a bleach solution, then soap and water).
- Wash your hands with soap and water multiple times.