Hantavirus reports from California (3 including one fatality), and Washington.

The Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) is a deceptively cute animal, with big eyes and big ears. Its head and body are normally about 2 - 3 inches long, and the tail adds another 2 - 3 inches in length. You may see it in a variety of colors, from gray to reddish brown, depending on its age. The underbelly is always white and the tail has sharply defined white sides. The deer mouse is found almost everywhere in North America. Usually, the deer mouse likes woodlands, but also turns up in desert areas.

California 08/25/10 mylocalnews.com: by Elizabeth Marie Himchak – A deer mouse recently trapped on the east side of Rancho Bernardo has tested positive for hantavirus, which is potentially deadly to humans, county officials announced today.  San Diego County Vector Control officials are warning people county wide that they need to take precautions when removing dead rodents or cleaning up their nests, droppings or urine.  To prevent rodent-to-human virus transmission, officials advise using the “wet-cleaning methods,” which includes ventilating affected indoor areas for at least 30 minutes before spraying a 10 percent bleach solution (two tablespoons of bleach per cup of water) on the dead rodent or area to be cleaned.  After 15 minutes, use a sponge or mop and rubber gloves. Double bag all items to be disposed, including the gloves, prior to throwing in trash and wash hands well with soap and water, they said.  Chris Conlan, the county’s supervising vector ecologist, said the virus is not carried by the typical house mouse, but by other rodents found in the fringes of developments, in canyons, undeveloped areas of the county and rural settings.  “Deer mice tend to inhabit a lot of San Diego County,” Conlan said.  The mouse found in Rancho Bernardo was the 20th in the county that tested positive this year. In January, six harvest mice in Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve were found with the disease.
 Last year there were only 14 cases in the county, including one Northern Baja deer mouse trapped in Rancho Bernardo last August. In 2008, there were 11 cases.Conlan said officials are not surprised to find more cases this year because mice populations tend to rise when there is sufficient or higher rainfall.  The virus, identified in 1993 during an outbreak in the Four Corners part of the United States (Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah), has been around for decades.  It causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in humans. In about 35 percent of cases, this is fatal since antibiotics and many other treatments are typically not effective, according to Conlan.  The last human case in San Diego County was about five years ago and the person survived, he said.  Though not transmitted between humans, the virus is transmitted from mouse to human because of its airborne nature, officials said.  People affected typically have flu-like symptoms that result in severe breathing difficulties due to the lungs filling with fluid, Conlan said.  “Hantavirus can be deadly, but it is preventable,” said Jack Miller, director of San Diego County Department of Health.  For tips on avoiding the virus and properly cleaning potentially infected areas, go to www.sdcounty.ca.gov/deh/pests/hantavirus.html.

California 08/20/10 myvalleynews.com: A brush mouse trapped at the Fry Creek Campground on Mount Palomar during routine monitoring

The Brush Mouse (Peromyscus boylii) Brownish or grayish above to buff or tawny on sides; white below. Tail distinctly bicolored, hairy, equal to or longer than head and body, with slightly tufted tip. Ankles dusky. Large ears. External measurements average: total length, 197 mm; tail, 103 mm; hind foot, 22 mm. Weight, 22-36 g.

tested positive for hantavirus, the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health announced on Monday. “Campers need to make sure that mice stay out of their tents, campers and motor homes,” said Jack Miller, director of the DEH.  “People contract hantavirus by inhaling the virus, often when they are cleaning up rodent droppings and nesting materials,” he said. “Wet cleaning methods should be used to prevent inhaling the virus.”  County Vector Control officials randomly sample wild mice to look for hantavirus. Nineteen mice have tested positive locally for hantavirus this year. Hantavirus is carried by wild rodents, primarily deer mice. The virus is found in rodent droppings and urine and can be inhaled by humans when it becomes airborne, according to the health agency.
California 08/17/10 krcrtv.com:  Redding – Tests performed on a Redding man who died last week have confirmed he died from hantavirus last week.  Hantavirus is a rare but deadly disease that’s spread through rodent droppings.  Health officials say 61-year-old Richard Laird Johnson might have been exposed to the virus while working as a seasonal employee for California state parks in Bodie, which is a popular ghost town.  Johnson had flu-like symptoms so bad that he had to be taken to a hospital in Reno, Nevada. He died on Thursday.

Hanta virus is a distant cousin of Ebola virus, but is found worldwide. The virus is spread by human contact with rodent waste. Dangerous respiratory illness develops. Effective treatment is not yet available and up to 50% of cases end in fatality.

Washington 08/14/10 q13fox.com: Everett – Coming across a mouse while you’re camping isn’t unusual.  But that’s what almost killed an Everett man.  Brad Erdahl was camping near Leavenworth when he spotted a mouse in his camper.  He scared the little critter off and then swept up some droppings it had left behind.  A few days later when he was back in Everett, Erdahl starting feeling flu-like symptoms. He just figured that he was under the weather.  But he kept getting worse. Before long he was exhausted, had trouble breathing and couldn’t keep his eyes open in the sunlight.  He called his doctor who told him to head to the hospital immediately. When he got there his condition got worse and he ended up on a respirator for six days.  Doctors kept performing tests but didn’t figure out that it was Hantavirus for days. That’s a rare, but deadly infection that kills about one out of three people that come down with it. There are no medicines that combat Hantavirus. All doctors can do is put someone on respirator and try to keep them alive long enough for their kidneys to beat the infection.
Brad knows that he got to the hospital just in time.  “I asked the question what if I hadn’t gone to the hospital? What if I waited? One of the doctors told me I would have passed out. If I was by myself I probably would have died. If I was around people I would have gone to the hospital and been a few hours behind where I was.”

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