Rodents and Hantavirus
Spring Has Arrived
Finally, the gloomy, frosty, days of Winter have passed and the crisp, clean, sunny days of Spring have arrived. What a lovely time of year. The birds are busily flying to and fro, singing their merry little songs while busily cleaning and taking care of their homes . They begin bringing in fresh new straw, scraps of twigs and grasses to pad their nest. I'm sure they're doing this ritual activity in expectation of their new baby chicks. I peak through the drapes and quietly observe them as they continue their mission uninterrupted, chirping happily all the while.
Fresh, clear, Spring air, complete with leaves and grass turning green and beautiful flowers budding out once again; What a lifting of the spirit this atmosphere encourages. It's a time of new beginnings, a time of renewal and regeneration. A time of clearing out the old and bringing in the new.
The Morning Routine - Well Almost
Just about this time every year; I like many others, feel that internal nudge to clean and polish just about everything. I usually begin with the interior of my home and end with clearing out of old or unwanted items that have been stored away in the garage.
Early this morning, while enjoying my morning routine of sipping fresh hot, black, coffee and the watching the morning news, a warning of a dreadful, dangerous and potentially deadly disease that is on the rise and is caused by rodent urine and feces was being issued by the news anchor with all purposeful intent.
My first thought was that, it's way too early to hear the words rodent, feces or urine and besides, this firm warning being issued was interfering with me being able to enjoy my little feathered friends' sweet songs. At that point I turned the television off. I tend to almost block out disgusting news and discussions like this, especially since I don't have any rodents or pests. It just wasn't something that could possibly affect me or anyone I know. I finished my coffee while contemplating my first day of Spring cleaning, which would begin today.
Spring Cleaning Begins
I spent the remainder of the morning on the usual chores, then decided to begin my Spring cleaning a little differently this year. I started by clearing out unwanted items in the front closet. I worked on it for about an hour; sorting through and deciding what to keep and what to donate. By the time I finished, I had three boxes for donation and two keep and store boxes. I headed to the garage with the keep boxes in tow, but upon observing the full and unavailable shelves, decided to make the trip out back and store the boxes in the storage room.
When I opened the door, I thought I saw something move but wasn't sure. I decided it was probably the light entering and illuminating such a large space so quickly. After scanning over the contents of the storage room, I realized that with a little organization, I could create a great deal more of space for storing items. So at that point, I set my boxes down on the ground and entered the building. Again, I thought I heard a noise; a little chill went from my neck down to my lower back. I tried to shake the creepy feeling. I attempted to be a little braver and behave like the grown woman I am. I thought to myself; What is that old saying when kids tested each others bravery; oh yeah, "are you a man or a mouse"? Then I giggled to myself as I thought, that's not quite the right saying for me, I'm a woman....okay then, I thought of something more fitting; "are you a woman or a wouse?" :) Strangely enough, I felt the tension melting and was a little relieved; I even felt a little braver.
Frozen in My Tracks
I remained standing where I was for a minute or so but heard and saw nothing more, so I decided to continue with my intended mission. I took a couple more steps inside and reached the first set of built-in shelving. I lifted the top box and set it on the floor to my right, then proceeded to pick up the bottom box which was sitting directly on the shelf. As I lifted the second box, there began a barrage of loud screeching and squeaking, almost screaming....I froze with the box in hand, lifted about six inches off the shelf....I think I was in some sort of shock. After what seemed like an eternity but was probably only a few seconds, my head cleared and I dropped the box. The second the box hit the shelf, what seemed like a thousand teeny tiny mice came running out. They scampered in every direction. It reminded me of ants running from fire. Then, a huge, gigantic mouse came running at me, well it actually ran past me but I wasn't sure what it was going to do. I thought I was going to faint, I think I actually did black out for a moment. I gasped for air and ran as fast as I could...it felt as though I was in slow motion. I reached my home, went through the door and locked it behind me for some reason. Then, completely out of breath, I collapsed into the security of my big green chair, still unable to think clearly just yet.
A few minutes later, trying to pull myself together and trying to digest what just happened, it hit me that the large creature was the biggest mice I had ever seen or heard of. So after giving myself a few more minutes to calm down, I called an exterminator, then took a hot shower. Later, in the afternoon, I couldn't get the vision of the large mouse off my mind and I also was curious to know if all those little ones were going to be as huge as the giant one was. So, even though I was exhausted from the horrible experience and mice are not my favorite subject, I decided to do a little research, only to discover that they weren't mice at all, they were in fact rats. Okay, that's it I thought to myself. I hope I never have to look at a mice or rat again; The exterminator will be here tomorrow. I'm going to call it a day. At that point, I turned the computer off and tried to relax.
My stomach was very queasy, so I decided on chicken soup for dinner. A friend called soon after which helped me to relax and calm down even more. We chit-chatted about nothing important for about twenty minutes...I didn't even mention the nasty rat problem in the storage room, I just wanted to forget about the whole disgusting and creepy ordeal.
Time For Bed
Feeling a little better about things at this point, I decided to take a nice long soaking bath to relax even more and also because I felt like the shower I had taken earlier that afternoon....well, it just wasn't enough for me to feel completely cleansed :) I sat down in my favorite cushy chair and began to read a book. I don't know at what point and time that I fell asleep but I was awakened by a barking dog just a little after 10:00 PM. Great timing, I thought to myself; Just in time for me to catch the nightly news. I turned the set on and heard the same warning about rodents that I had refused to listen to earlier that morning. This time I paid close attention to what the news anchor had to say.
Spring and A Fresh New Start
After ending yesterday with that late night news story, needless to say; I didn't sleep well. Upon awakening early the next morning and while waiting on the exterminator, I decided to do more research to see if other parts of the country were having similar problems concerning rodents. I was quite surprised to find some did.
The exterminator arrived and began the process of removing and eliminating the rodent problem, which by the way was even worse than what I had initially found. He checked the interior of my home before leaving and said he found nothing inside. In his terms it was "good to go" He will be dealing with the outside problem during the course of the next year, just to be on the safe side and to keep them from migrating indoors. Next, I called a handyman that a friend recommended to me, who will be organizing my storage room and loading boxes out there for me starting next week.
So for now, I'll attempt to forget yesterday. I think I'll have another cup of coffee, maybe I'll just sit here and absorb the peace and tranquility that surrounds me right now. I can even hear the birds singing once more. Maybe I'll stay in this moment for a while, a long while... I can always re- start my Spring clean tomorrow. After all, it will still be another beautiful Spring day, another fresh new start, another new beginning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease in humans caused by infection with a hantavirus."
"Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry hantavirus is at risk of HPS. Rodent infestation in and around the home remains the primary risk for hantavirus exposure. Even healthy individuals are at risk for HPS infection if exposed to the virus."
"To date, no cases of HPS have been reported in the United States in which the virus was transmitted from ONE PERSON TO ANOTHER. In fact, in a study of health care workers who were exposed to either patients or specimens infected with related types of hantaviruses (which cause a different disease in humans), none of the workers showed evidence of infection or illness."
The disease spreads by;
1."Breathing in dust that is contaminated with rodent urine or droppings."
2." Direct contact with rodents or their urine and droppings."
3." Bite wounds, although this does not happen frequently"
Source for the information above is located at http://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/hps/index.html
You can view and/or print out the fact sheet about hantavirus at; www.cdc.gov/hantavirus