How I learned to clean a mouse trap without catching this deadly disease

How to clean a rat trap and avoid catching hantavirus

When you live in a rural area, it is nearly impossible not to bump into your closest neighbors: rodents. We went years with virtually no signs of pest problems until recently when a mouse chewed a hole through the side of our house. It made its way under the floor boards to the kitchen sink where it set up camp underneath the floor of the sink.

At night, I could hear it scratching. I set out traps, kept our kitchen spotless, and made sure our cat — who loves to catch and kill field mice from the cow pasture — stayed inside at night in case our unwelcome guest decided to make an appearance above the floor boards.

Then, earlier this week, as I was sitting in the living room wondering when the late night news would come on, I heard a satisfying THWACK! The mouse was dead.

If you catch and kill rodents in your house, camp or garage, it is important to know the proper way to clean up, so you do not expose your family to hantavirus.

Hantavirus is a dangerous disease that infects humans after contact with droppings, urine or bodily fluids from rodents. Aside from the mess that rodents create from chewing through walls and floors, getting into food and supplies, and the potential for house fires from chewing through electrical wires, there is the potentially fatal hantavirus to keep you up at night, worrying.

If infected, a person can develop something called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, which can be fatal. You’ll see symptoms that include fever, chills, muscles aches, diarrhea, vomiting, shortness of breath, fluid in the lungs, and more.

To make sure you don’t get it, it is imperative that you take extra precautions when cleaning up a rodent trap. Begin by spraying the rodent, trap and general area with a bleach solution. With gloved hands, remove the rodent from the trap and discard in a plastic bag. Spray the trap again with a bleach solution and let dry before resetting the trap or storing it.

For more step-by-step details, check out this video created by the California Department of Public Health:

In 2011 hantavirus made its first appearance in Maine. For more information on hantavirus, please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble and Momtastic. She is a co-author in six books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine, National Public Radio, Washington Post, and VICE Tonic.