Worsening mouse plague sees ‘thirsty’ rodents dying in water tanks sparking health fears

Rural homeowners are raising issues about possibly infected drinking water after discovering poisoned mice in their tanks, as the mouse plague continues to get worse.

Frustrated landholders are continuing to attempt to lower mice populations with strenuous baiting programs, however the issue isn’t revealing any indications of slowing.

Louise Hennessy, from Elong Elong in Central West NSW, has actually released an alerting to other rural homeowners about possible health ramifications for people and animals after discovering baited mice in her drinking supply.

She made the discovery when she climbed her home tank to examine a clog and was instantly overwhelmed by a revolting odor.

“It was so horrifying, I thought it would make a good picture to remind people to be vigilant about their water tanks,” Ms Hennessy stated.

“We always filter the water going into our house from the tanks, so for us personally we feel we’ve covered our precautions so we didn’t notice anything with the taste. But the smell of the mice at the top of the tank was so disgusting.”

Farmers state regardless of discovering great deals of dead mice, population numbers are continuing to grow regardless of baiting programs.(Supplied: Craig Wilson)

Be careful when baiting

Ms Hennessy called the Primary Health Unit to learn about the health ramifications of having actually poisoned mice in drinking water.

“I do understand the necessity if you’re on a rural property to bait mice, but it is important to know what precautions need to be followed,” she stated.

“There are a lot of baits available that are very toxic. There are a lot of wildlife feeding on the mice, there are so many aspects to consider to keep everyone safe while managing the mouse plague.

“Think about what you’re utilizing, beware in utilizing baits, where you put them, think about where the water source is. I simply hope the frost comes quickly to entirely clean the mice out.”

A bin filled with 150 dead mice that were caught in one trap in a single night
This one trap netted 150 mice in a single night as the plague worsens in Wongarbon in Central West NSW.(Supplied: Kristy Leigh)

Concerns for human health

Dubbo Regional Council’s environment and health officer Simone Tenne said people often did not consider drinking water contamination.

“Rainwater tanks are viewed to be a tidy source of drinking water, however they frequently have frogs in them, bugs, a big quantity of bird faeces which has actually boiled down off the roofing,” Ms Tenne stated.

“The public health sector advises individuals do some kind of treatment whether it be chlorination, a little acidification or some sort of filtering to prevent getting germs accidentally through drinking infected water.”

Ms Tenne said health issues could be triggered by mice in drinking water.

“Like having any dead animal in your water, you’re handling a variety of various germs depending upon the health of that types.

“You’re looking at salmonella, E.coli, giardia — a range of gastro-intestinal disorders that you can get from drinking water that’s got a colourful range of bacteria and viruses.

“The issue with rain water is you can get a peaceful environment that gets great and warm in the summer season and you have all sorts of impurities that assist the germs to grow. You need to be really mindful.”

She did note that a large amount of poison would be needed to have an effect on a person drinking contaminated water.

“To get ill from the toxin that the rat or mouse has actually taken would take a big dosage,” Ms Tenne said.

“You might take a spoonful of rat toxin and it would not always eliminate you, even if you’re a little individual.

“You’d think the poison would be extremely dilute, as well as the fact many of the poisons break down once they’ve been ingested by the mouse.”

Dead mice in pool floating on the cord of the pool cleaner
Baited mice are being discovered in water tanks and swimming pools throughout the mouse plague.(Supplied: Jane Blomley)

Mice, snakes, fish, kangaroos

Dubbo water tank cleaner Richard Teague stated he experienced the issue often.

“I’ve seen my fair share of rodents pop up in drinking water, everything from rats to lots and lots of mice. Especially if people use baits, it makes them thirsty so they jump up into the gutters, pass away and the next time it rains they get washed into the tanks,” Mr Teague stated.

“I’ve been very busy pretty much since the drought broke because of the dust storms over the years. There’s inches of dirt that blew into tanks over the years. Now, with this mice plague.”

The water tank specialist stated individuals must be persistent about tank cleansing and upkeep, due to the fact that mice were not the only animals triggering issues.

Two carp fish photographed in a water tank
Richard Teague states it’s not uncommon to discover fish in tanks kilometres from the nearby waterway.(Supplied: Richard Teague)

“It’s not uncommon to find fish — I see a lot of European carp end up in tanks,” Mr Teague stated.

“I don’t know how they get there — maybe birds carry the eggs. I find fish in open tanks out on properties that can be miles and miles from any river,” Mr Teague stated.

“I get lots of snakes, I’ve had a kangaroo. In those instances we drain it, disinfect it and start again to get it as clean as the day it was made.”

He stated routine upkeep was a should to prevent drinking infected water.

“There’s no substitute for maintenance with the tank baskets and your gutters. I vacuum mine out pretty regularly and every time I’m pretty surprised how much comes out of it,” Mr Teague stated.

“Wherever you have water that’s kept still, algae tends to grow, die and then fall to the bottom. Over several years it builds up, it’s not uncommon to have several feet deep of different types of sludges depending on where the water’s coming from.”

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