Rodent Die-Off Marks Potentially Fatal Threat To San Diego Residents

SAN DIEGO (CBS) — Health officials on Thursday warned of an increase in the number of rodents that have tested positive for hantavirus in areas of San Diego County.

The county Department of Environmental Health said six rodents in the past week have tested positive for the potentially fatal but difficult to contract virus.

KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle reports officials attribute the number of cases to heavy winter rains and an unusually large rodent population.

“It’s extremely rare to get it, but you don’t want to be that one guy in a million who gets it because there is no cure, there is no vaccine,” said Greg Slauson of the Dept. of Environmental Health.

So far this year, the number of rodents with hantavirus is nearly twice as many compared to a year ago, with 38 rodents having tested positive for hantavirus in the county, compared to 21 in 2010.

The U.S. Centers of Disease Control reports the virus has a 38 percent mortality rate.

Officials warn people should never use a broom to sweep up rodent droppings, as hantavirus can become airborne with dust and inhaled. The area should instead be cleaned with bleach or a disinfectant.

Visit the health department’s website for more complete cleaning instructions.

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