CONTRA COSTA COUNTY: Investigators Look for Hantavirus Source
State and county health officials are trying to determine how a Contra Costa County woman contracted hantavirus, a rare and sometimes fatal disease spread by deer mice in largely rural areas, the Contra Costa Times reports. Twenty-seven- year-old Melissa Rardin died of the virus last spring, but has not been linked to the typical rural starting points. Officials said it is likely that she contracted hantavirus from deer mice at her Byron home or the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory where she worked. Contra Costa County Director of Public Health Wendel Brunner said, "I don't know of any other cases in the Bay Area. This was a surprise." Brunner added, "I don't think we need to panic about hantavirus in the Bay Area. This has probably been here as long as we have. What is new is that we are recognizing it more and more." The disease, which spreads through mouse feces or urine and causes flu-like symptoms, has killed at least 12 California residents and infected 26 since 1980 (Widener/McMillan, 1/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.