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Deadly Hantavirus Found in Riverside County, Health Officials Say

Three deer and western harvest mice snared in January near Highway 60, were confirmed as carriers of hantavirus, Riverside County health officials said Thursday.

Confirmation that mice trapped west of Beaumont tested positive for the potentially deadly hantavirus prompted Riverside County health officials this week to remind residents to take precautions in places inhabited by rodents.

According to the Department of Environmental Health, three deer and western harvest mice snared in January in the Norton Younglove Preserve, between San Timoteo Canyon Road and state Route 60, were confirmed as carriers of hantavirus.

The pathogen can lead to a severe and potentially fatal respiratory infection in humans called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, or HPS.

County officials stopped short of issuing a health alert, saying the discovery of the infected rodents was not unusual. Thirty-one other mice netted in the same area did not test positive. Between 2002 and 2012, roughly 10 percent of rodents collected in Riverside County were found to be hantavirus carriers, officials said.

Hantavirus is transmitted through rodent feces and urine. Mice do not exhibit symptoms of being sick, making identification of infected creatures difficult, according to the Department of Environmental Health.

Residents are advised to avoid stirring up dust and debris when cleaning places where rodents have left droppings and to follow these additional recommendations:

  • ventilate rodent-infested places the night before cleaning them
  • apply household disinfectants liberally in rodent nesting areas
  • use rubber gloves while cleaning
  • use a mop or sponge -- not a vacuum cleaner or broom -- to clean
  • double-bag dead rodents and the waste cleared out of infested areas
  • wash hands with gloves still on, then wash again after removing them

Warning signs of HPS include headache, fever, muscle aches, vomiting and abdominal pain. If untreated, respiratory failure can ensue.

Fifty-six hantavirus cases have been reported in California -- though none in Riverside County -- since 1980. Twenty were fatal. One of the worst- known cases of an outbreak occurred in the Four Corners region of the desert southwest in 1993. More than 30 people died over the course of a year.

Anyone with questions or concerns can contact the Department of Environmental Health at 951-766-9454.

—City News Service


Brenda February 22, 2013 at 07:05 PM
There are way more Hanta Virus outbreaks then the Dept. Health even know about. Because it so much resembles pneumonia except that it starts and kills you within a week, Doctors do not know what they are dealing with. Except pneumonia. Also because it is more likely to hit elderly and people with diseases they are already fighting its just chalked up as fast killing pneumonia because of age or chronic illness, or compromised immune system. I caught Hanta Virus in Dec. 09 and was on life support for 3 weeks. Thank all and every God that everyone I know across the country prayed for me. I went from feeling fine Christmas Night to over 104 fever within hours, into emergency and that is all myself remember. That is just how fast Hanta Virus hits your body full force. Of those who have lived its always the same onset, same treatment(as there is no treatment), ICU, coma, life support, any flu type medications just for the heck of it like tamiflu and yeast/mold infection medications, the whole kitchen cabinet. For your home just make sure you get ducting cleaned out yearly, filters changed, all holes filled up so the critters cannot get in the house, traps if they do, and dont forget the garage, dog food in a tightly closed container. Literally one microscopic dander from an infected mice, can be inhaled, and you have it. Camping, watch the tents, the cars, the food storage. It takes a year at least to get back all your functions. :/
Adrian February 22, 2013 at 08:17 PM
I am proud of the Patch peanut gallery today. No body has blamed Obama, immigrants or Summerhouse for the outbreak yet.
Becky Honkington February 22, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Give it some time. I'm sure they will latch onto this article too and do their thing.

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