How they kill: What's worse than seeing a mouse scurrying under your baseboards? Finding only the evidence of its visit in the corner of your garage—a pile of droppings. Remember that you're not dealing with Mickey and Minnie here. Infected deer mice, present in sizable numbers out West, excrete deadly Hantavirus in their waste; exposure comes through breathing contaminated dust while cleaning or discarding it. Once infected by the virus, flulike symptoms progress into fluid-filled lungs, and one out of every three people afflicted dies of respiratory failure.
How to get them before they get you: Seal up cracks and gaps in buildings that are larger than ¼ inch, including window and doorsills, under sinks around the pipes, in foundations, and attics. Keep garbage and pet food tightly secured. Most important, do not stir up a rodent-infected area by vacuuming or sweeping; clean up mouse waste with a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water, making sure to wear a mask and latex or nitrile gloves. Pour the solution over the area, let soak for 10 minutes, then use a damp towel to remove and discard. Reapply bleach solution to area, and disinfect gloves before removing. Then wash hands thoroughly with soap.