Protecting Your Home From the Dangers of Deer Mice
You have likely seen on of these wily little critters scampering around a property near yours. They certainly look harmless enough, but despite their size, deer mice can bring potentially deadly disease into your home.
Deer mice are generally very small with a long tail that accounts for the majority of their five to eight inches of length. Their name is thought to come from their coloring, which is very similar to a deer’s – brown on top and white underneath. Due to their hearty, adaptable nature, deer mice have been very successful in a multitude of climates, hence the reason that they can be found throughout most of the United States. Once upon a time, the colonies survived in the grasslands, cliffs, forests, and croplands, seeking only a suitable place to burrow. Today, they have found wonderfully elegant accommodations in barns, sheds, and, of course, houses.
Unfortunately, once a mouse infestation has been spotted, it can be rather difficult to get rid of. The mice breed throughout the year, do not hibernate, and females can have as many as nine offspring in a single litter, yet they are only pregnant for a mere three weeks. Their tiny babies are easily hid, as they weigh in at as little as 1 gram – less than the weight of an American penny.
So, why is there such fear attached to such a tiny species of animal? It has been proven that deer mice are carriers of a potential fatal disease called the Hantavirus. The virus, which can be deadly to humans, is spread via the bodily fluids and excrement of the mouse. People who find the nests of the colonies and try to clean them out of a space or those who have large colonies living in their homes for long periods of time can breathe in the contaminated dust created as the feces breakdown. Additionally, if a person is bitten, there is a good chance that he or she will be infected.
The Hantavirus is not new to this country, but it is serious. Many people, unfortunately, don’t even know they are suffering from it until it has reached a severe state. It begins as a flu-like illness with symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, headaches, vomiting, nausea, and fatigue. However, as it progresses, blood pressure drops and fluid builds up in the lungs making breathing difficult. Eventually, organs can fail, including the heart.
Once breathing difficulty begins, a person can pass away within a day or two. There is some discrepancy on fatality rates associated Hantavirus. Some sources suggest that thirty percent will succumb to it, while others say that it is closer to forty percent. Regardless of which is correct, there is ample reason to get rid of deer mice immediately.