H1N1? How about the Hantavirus?

There’s no vaccine for that (relatively elusive) monster. (Further Adventures in the Vandertrailer.)

A couple of nights ago Dixie came out of the bedroom saying she had heard a squeaking/click-y noise. She wondered if we had a mouse in the house. I hadn’t given any thought to mice before and was doubtful.  I listened in our bedroom for several minutes.  Nothing. I told Dixie it could be anything: perhaps the water heater going through a cycle (it’s in our bedroom closet) or Luke grinding his teeth (he was asleep in our bed). I didn’t think it was a mouse.

Then last night Dixie–her senses already on alert–pointed to half a dozen little black things on the counter behind the toaster and the fruit.  “Are those mouse turds?” she wondered.

“Naw,” says I, “that’s just flax or something from our bread.

Fool that I am, I picked up a couple of pieces with my bare fingers.  They did not look like flax.

TO THE INTERNET! I Googled “mouse poop” and then followed Google’s recommendation and searched “mouse feces”. What Dixie found sure looked like mouse turds. I went to the lazy susan to examine some of the products a mouse may like to eat. Nothing had chewed through the bag of instant oatmeal or the bag of chocolate chips.

It was 11p.m. and we had no mousetraps, so I set about creating a test scenario wherein I could determine if there was, in fact, a mouse in the house. My method: a heap of outmeal inside an open Ziplock bag.  If the heap was disturbed in the morning it would confirm the presence of a mouse. I took out the Tupperware container which held more oatmeal. On the lid of the (sealed) container: more turds.

Mouse confirmed.

We noticed that our neighbour friends were still awake, so I went to their house to see if they had any mousetraps.  They did.  They gave me the trap and some recommendations for what to use and how to dispose of the critter.  Came home and set up trap with chocolate chip cookie and placed it in the in lazy susan.

In the meantime, Dixie found more poop under a pile of clothing in our bedroom.  Shoot.

Thanks to some government documents and websites I found while searching “mouse feces”, I got to thinking and worrying about the Hantavirus. The symptoms of Hantivirus infection (.pdf) are–of course!–flu-like: fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, diarrhea, abdominal pain and shortness of breath. In the last couple of weeks, five or six of those symptoms have appeared in this trailer, though not all in any one person.  Luke and Olivia had diarrhea; Luke vomited a couple of times and complained of a sore tummy; Dixie and I both have had fairly serious diarrhea for a couple of days, headaches, muscle aches; I’ve had a tiny bit of nausea.


Of course, it’s also flu season, so who can tell? The info sites say things like, if severe flu-like symptoms appear within 3-60 days of exposure to mouse feces (etc.) go to a doctor.  I wonder how many people know when they’ve been exposed to mouse feces? Dixie and both have coughs and sore throats–our colds are moving from our heads to our chests–so, naturally, we immediately become conscious of the shortness-of-breath symptom, even though neither of us is short of breath.  Just a bit wheezy at times.

Now the odds.  About 11% of the rodent population in southern Manitoba carry the virus.  There have been 2 hantavirus-related deaths in southern Manitoba, both in the mid-90’s.  30-40% of recorded cases of Hantavirus have ended in death.  Which means there have been no more than about 5 recorded cases of the virus in Manitoba.  I don’t know how to figure out odds, but those numbers tell me they’re pretty low.

But now we have not only H1N1 to worry about (we haven’t been vaccinated), we also have the Hantavirus (for which there is no vaccine). Or it could just be seasonal flu. Or it could just be a common cold. Who knows.

So anyway… with the mouse trap set up in the lazy susan, we went off to bed, with a bit of fear and trepidation.  We didn’t sleep well.  I would wake in the middle of the night and the house would be so silent that I didn’t want to listen because I didn’t want to hear anything. Something in the closet clicked, something in the hallways clicked…furnace starting up.  At 4a.m. I was awoken by a loud “SNAP” and I knew…

Sure enough, in the morning there was a little grey feller caught in the trap, mouth over the chocolate chip.  Looks like he didn’t even get a taste–just opening his mouth to bite and–SNAP.  Dead.

Originally I planned on throwing out the whole works–dead mouse, chocolate, and trap.  But I was brave this morning and removed the mouse from the trap, disposed of the mouse, and reset the trap before we left for church.  We’re back now a couple of hours later and no mouse in trap.  Before we head out to watch the Grey Cup with friends 45 minutes west of here I’ll set a few more around the house for when we’re gone.

I suspect, though, that most rodent activity will be nocturnal.

10 thoughts on “H1N1? How about the Hantavirus?

  1. Angie

    A few years back, we had mice in our house (when I lived with my mom and dad). I think we ended up with a total of 3 or 4 dead mice in the traps set in the kitchen and basement. It was rather nasty to go through our pantry and find little mouse turds all the way to the top. The strangest place we found a mouse turd was on the piano keys in the living room. But mouse traps are very effective. We found that a bit of peanut butter spread on the trap worked well. YUCK! Maybe you should get a cat…

  2. Pingback: VanderMeander » Blog Archive » A whole new meaning to “flax cookies”.

  3. Toni

    We had an infestation a while back, where they came in from next door while it wasn’t lived in, moving through the walls. Caught somewhere between 26 and 30 of the critters. The owners of the place next door put down poison, which means that they die and rot – decomposing mouse stinks – in inaccessible places.

    Oil soaked bread seemed an effective bait.

  4. Terry

    Mice are no fun. And where there is one, there are more. Annoying little buggers. And scary about hanta virus, though don’t let yourself get carried away…

    The key for you will be to discover how they are getting into your place. The really disconcerting part of that is they can make their egress into holes about the size of a dime. Having experience with mobile dwellings, finding all of these is no easy task.

    Our first year in our older house helped me to find a few of those. They are now well sealed, and the only way for the little buggers to get in now is if we inadvertently leave the door open for too long. Steel wool is the key, or in some cases, spray foam. Though if they really want to get in, they will chew throught the foam.

    Maybe I should bring my dog over… she has a nose for these things and has torn entire sheets of OSB up on the side of my garage in search of the vermin. Funny though, when she was a pup, she was afraid of them, usually getting onto the nearest chair to get away from them.

    And I know we have some kind of vermin in our detached shop. I keep a container of dog food in there for when we leave her in the run during the day. These days, everytime I check, its knocked over and there’s dog food all over the place. Angers me to think that I am feeding them!

    Not sure if you got my message last time, but lets go for coffee sometime before Christmas break… would love to catch up. Or if it suits better, we can catch up while finding all of the dime sized points of entry under your house… 🙂 It only takes one!


  5. Pingback: VanderMeander » Blog Archive » Mice Twice

  6. Collette

    mice ARE crappy to have (pun intended!). I threw away something like 6 grocery bags of food thanks to my mice. and bleached a lot of shelves. and hauled up a very heavy nobody-in-their-right-mind-should-move-this-alone cabinet from the basement to use for pantry shelves instead of the canning shelves I was using. I haven’t gotten everything in plastic containers yet, but I will since I am hoping to go back to the open shelves at some point. the cabinet doesn’t fit!

    in the end I caught 5 mice in the live trap and my dog killed one. she’s been very helpful in the mouse hunt! I know exactly where they are thanks to her! I have to confess, one place that I need to clean out is the bottom of my closet. it’s a weird closet and hard to access, but it has clothes and sheets all over the bottom. and my dog is always very interested in it. I plan to clean it up this weekend — but I dread what I might find! eek.

    stay strong, Vanderfamily.

  7. Dixie

    You’re one brave woman, Collette!

    Maybe you should’ve come for your Vandervisit this week?! You would’ve come in very handy. 🙂

  8. Collette

    ha, no, I’ve had enough mice for now 🙂

    I do want to do that Vandervisit! my last climbing class is this weekend. but, from this point on things get hectic what with friends coming home from far off places (Ontario). the first friend comes home Dec 14! I haven’t seen him since August!

    January? late January? (after my birthday: Jan 14.) something like this is more likely.

  9. Collette

    also, I’m not brave! I just don’t have any choice. the good and bad thing about being single is that I have to do it all by myself. I’ve learned lots of good skills, and cast away lots of squeamishness. but, it’s not fun doing it alone 🙁 but, I manage. and get stronger.

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