Viral Exposure Evidence Found in Deer Mice

From Times Staff Reports

Antibodies to a deadly form of hantavirus that causes fluid to build up in the lungs has been found in deer mice trapped in South County, officials said Monday.

James G. Francisco, technical director of the Orange County Vector Control District, emphasized that only antibodies to the Sin Nombre Virus (No Name Virus) were found in the rodents' blood, not the virus itself.

"There's no cause for alarm, but we wanted to make the public aware," Francisco said.

Officials have collected rodent samples since 1993, and there has never been a case in Orange County of a human infected by the hantavirus, he said.

The virus is transmitted through rodent droppings, urine, saliva and carcasses. Francisco recommended against sweeping up dry droppings because of the possibility of inhaling contaminated dust particles. Instead, droppings and carcasses should be sprayed with one part bleach to nine parts water, picked up with rubber gloves and placed in a double plastic bag.

The contaminated rodents were found in an area from Anaheim Hills to Newport Beach, south to San Clemente and east to the Riverside County line.

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