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WATSEKA — While Illinois has had only three reported Hantavirus cases to date, public health officials are warning residents, especially those living in rural areas, of the need to guard against this rodent-born disease by performing proper rodent control measures.
Information obtained from the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Environmental Health Division provides guidance to those seeking to perform proper rodent control.
A structure’s exterior should be inspected for cracks and holes. An opening of just ¼ inch is large enough for mice to enter. Openings should be filled with materials such as mortar or silicone sealant, or blocked using wood, plastic, metal or hardware cloth. Be sure to look overhead when inspecting, not just around the foundation, as rodents are good climbers and can enter through openings around doors, windows, vents, soffits, and where utility lines penetrate the structure. Also, keep vegetation and clutter well away from the structure — these provide mice with cover and nesting sites.
Rodents enter structures primarily to find food, so sealing all food sources is part of a plan to keep them out. Make sure all foods are sealed in containers that rodents cannot chew through. This includes livestock feed and pet foods, which are common sources of rodent feeding. When rodents do enter a structure, snap traps are often the method of choice for eliminating them. If one or two mice are seen or suspected, set a half-dozen snap traps in those areas. Traps should be placed along walls where rodents are likely to run. In placing a single trap, position it perpendicular to the wall with the trigger facing the wall. To use two traps together, place them parallel to the wall with triggers facing away from each other.
Larger rodent infestations may require the use of rodenticide baits. These baits should not be placed in areas accessible to children and pets. It is imperative that label directions are followed when using this type of control measure. Another method recommended for large infestations is the use of multiple-catch mouse traps. These are typically small, metal boxes that take advantage of a mouse’s innate curiosity. Mice enter the trip and cannot escape. No bait or rodenticide is involved.
However, these traps are not often found in retails stores, but may be purchased via the internet, from pest control product stores and distributors, and from some pest control companies.
Since the deer mouse tends to inhabit fields and forests more than highly urbanized locations and is the primary vector of Hantavirus in Illinois, residents in rural areas are most at risk for the disease and should be most vigilant in performing the above methods of rodent control.
To obtain a Fact Sheet on Hantavirus visit the following website: http://www.idph.state.il.us/public/hb/hbhanta.htm.