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.
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.