I used to love mice. I thought they were so cute, cuppable in one hand, a satisfying light fullness to their soft little bodies. That was before I had to remove approximately 100 lbs of possibly hantavirus infected mouse droppings from my garage.
At first I thought it would be a simple affair: I’d cover my nose and mouth with a mask, sweep up the mouse droppings, and discard them. After I mentioned this plan of action to my boss on the farm, however, I realized that this might not be such a good idea. She had a friend die from hantavirus (somewhat of a misnomer – hantavirus is actually a group of viruses carried by rodents, with the kind that is transmissible to people being called, somewhat oxymoronically, sin nombre) last year. She also told me that people who do post-rodent-infestation cleanup routinely wear hazmat suits. After conducting some online research, I found that 1 in 3 cases of sin nombre are fatal, and that I’d need to thoroughly soak all contaminated areas with a bleach solution (viral particles attach to dust, which is disturbed by sweeping) before getting rid of the droppings. Easier said than done. The garage is huge, and they were everywhere. Everywhere.
Almost instantly, mice transformed in my mind from furry little friends into fiendish enemies, whose sole purpose in life is to shit, spread disease, and kill me and my loved ones. I was consumed with a blind, irrational rage, and, for the first time in my life, felt blood lust directed towards an adorable little mammal. My ire has calmed somewhat after the distance of a day and a good hot shower, but I’ll still be setting mouse traps.