Controlling And Reducing The Health Risks Of Occasional Mice Infestations

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If you live in rural America, you may experience an influx of mice in your home in the late fall. These tiny rodents seek out winter shelter as the weather cools, and your home is often an inviting abode for the winter. The typical American home provides everything a mouse needs to thrive, like food, water, and a warm, dry place to sleep and breed. That means you need to be diligent to keep mice under control and eliminate you exposure to the diseases these pesky rodents can introduce to your home. Here's what you need to know.

How do mice get in the house? 

Mice are amazing creatures and can flatten their bodies to squeeze through cracks and crevices around doors, windows, and through openings in the eaves or around crawl spaces. Although they look much larger, a mouse is really mostly fur and can work it's way through any hole that its head will fit through. This means mice can crawl through holes as small as 1/4-inch in diameter. That's about the size of an ordinary pencil. Sealing all cracks and crevices is the best way to prevent mice from entering your home.

Are mice dangerous?

Mice aren't physically dangerous and typically do not attack or bite, unless they are trapped and cannot escape. But they do carry diseases that can be spread throughout your home via urine and feces. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) and the white footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) both carry Hantavirus, a severe respiratory disease. Mice may also carry the Leptospira bacteria that can cause Leptospirosis, a condition that can lead to respiratory distress, liver or kidney damage or failure, and meningitis.

What do you need to do to get rid of them?

If an occasional mouse enters you home, you can typically control them with mousetraps. You can purchase either live traps that allow you to catch the mouse and release it away from you home or snap traps or other mouse traps designed to kill the mouse. Other options include mouse bait that also kills the mouse, but these must be used with caution if you have small children or pets, as the bait inside the traps is toxic and may cause injury or death. Getting a cat is also a workable option for many people, as a good mouser will keep the mouse population at bay. For severe infestations, a pest control company, like Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, may be the best option, as these experts can rid your home of mice and typically return at regular intervals to monitor for the presence of mice. 

How do you clean up after a mouse infestation?

Cleaning up after a mouse infestation is important because the urine, feces, and nesting material may contain disease-causing organisms. The CDC recommends strict guidelines for cleaning an area that has been infested with mice. Here's what you need to do.

  1. Air out the area. Open the windows and let the air circulate for approximately half an hour.
  2. Spray down the area with a disinfectant. Although you can purchase disinfectant for this, you can also mix one part household bleach to ten parts water and use it to treat the area, explains the CDC. Saturate the mouse debris and allow it to soak for 5 minutes to kill bacteria and prepare the area for cleaning.
  3. Pick up the droppings with a paper towel. Put on protective non-absorbent gloves and pick up the droppings and dispose of them in a plastic bag. Do not scrub, sweep, or vacuum the area at this time, as that will release contaminated particles into the air. You can wipe the area gently to remove urine, but use caution.
  4. ​Spray the entire area again with the disinfectant to saturate it. Use your mop to scrub the area clean and allow it to air dry.
  5. Steam clean contaminated rugs or furniture.
  6. Wash bedding and clothing in hot water. This includes any other washable fabrics that have been contaminated by mice.
  7. Wash your hands thoroughly. Use hot, soapy water to wash your hands.
  8. Place all cleaning cloths, gloves, and other contaminated materials in a plastic bag and seal it before throwing it in the trash.

Knowing how to get rid of mice and clean up their mess afterward will prevent exposure to possible health risks.