Letter Re: Rourke on: A Mouse in the House? Retreat Pest Control

Dear James,
I would carry Rourke’s point a bit further. I would never recommend the use of a “humane” mouse trap! Given that hantavirus is transmitted via contact or aerosolization/inhalation of feces, urine or saliva, the last thing you want around is a trap that keeps a mouse alive long enough for you to handle it, whereupon it promptly urinates and defecates. A far better solution is to take a plastic trash bag, place a snap trap inside it and place a bent piece of cardboard in the bag to hold it open and keep the trap from getting caught on the bag when it snaps. Once the mouse is caught, put on your mask and spray the mouse, trap and inside of the bag with bleach/water. Wait half an hour. Then mask up, put on your gloves, seal the bag and dispose of the entire mess.
Some people may not regard this as “humane” but neither is dying of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, and leaving your wife and kids to deal with the loss.
Several sources I’ve consulted suggest that hanta- and Sin Nombre virus degrade rapidly in the presence of UV light (including direct sunlight) and that the virus becomes inactive several days after being shed, but neither of these bear heavily on disinfection issues.
I grew up on (and still live on) my family’s ranch. Back then, no one ever gave a second thought to “mouse poop” – we simply swept it up and while mice in outbuildings were a constant nuisance, they were a fact of life. Looking back, I never recalled anyone in our community becoming ill or dying of viral pneumonia, but I suppose it may have happened.
(It makes you wonder how many ranchers and farmers have antibody titres to hantavirus.) It is probably an overstated risk, but still worth considering – and avoiding. Regards, – Ralph