Major mouse infestation posing health risk to Maui residents

Major mouse infestation on Maui

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A major mouse infestation on Maui has experts scratching their heads.

They're in people's homes, their yards, even hospitals aren't immune.

The small rodents also come with a big health concern. Fleas hitching a ride on them carry a bacterial disease that can be deadly.

Maui is no stranger to mice problems.  But health officials say the time of year and the amount of mice are very strange.

The main problem is along Honoapiilani Highway.  Thousands of dead mice are believed to be on the road.

"Right now it's a little strange.  They're appearing outside of where they're supposed to be.  So we don't really know what to make of it," said Maui District Health Officer Doctor Lorrin Pang.

Pang says there are two possible reasons for Maui mouse outbreak: either overcrowding in the fields or dry areas on the island.

He says he doesn't think it's the latter because of the recent rain.  But there's one thing he knows for sure.

"They carry a germ. The germ is a bacterial disease and the germ is called Typhus," Pang said.

In fact, Terri Erwin of Wailuku had murine typhus in 2010.

"The fever continued on and I just kept getting weaker and weaker to the point where it was even hard for me to get out of bed," said Erwin.

The easy way to tell you have typhus is because you develop a rash.  Other symptoms include headaches, fever, and muscle aches.

Pang says you don't notice bumps all the time so some think they have the flu.  But severe neurological symptoms can occur if it goes untreated and in some rare cases even death.

"I had my eyes closed, I was holding my head just from the normal sounds being around like a chair scraping a ground was extremely painful," Erwin said.

Thankfully doctors treated Erwin in time.

They're still unsure where she caught the disease. But they do know humans can get it from feral cats.

"They keep the mice away but they can also harbor the flea of the mouse," Pang said.

Pang says doctors are alerted to prevent the major mouse outbreak from becoming a major typhus outbreak.

Pang says don't leave pet food or water out because mice will come.  If your cat has fleas, he says be aggressive with treatment.

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