Typhus controlKIHEI, Maui >> State health officials announced yesterday a plan to place poisoned oats on house lawns in Maui Meadows, as the number of murine typhus cases increased to 11 on the Valley Isle and 13 statewide.
to include poisons
Health officials plan to spread
deadly oats to control Maui mice
By Gary T. Kubota
The latest case contracted in July occurred in Kahului, the second case in the community this year.
Dr. Lorrin Pang, health administrator on Maui, said the pilot project, targeted at the high mouse population in the area, will enable health officials to spread poisoned bait over a larger area.
"It will save a lot of time," Pang said.
Pang spoke last night at a public meeting in Kihei, where there have been eight cases of murine typhus.
About 12 people attended the meeting at the Kihei Community Center.
State health officials have been putting poisoned oats in bait stations at Maui Meadows residences near pastures.
Pang said that when bait stations have been placed every 30 feet, they have reduced the rodent population by 90 percent.
But health officials say they have a little more than 200 bait stations on Maui, and the current method is labor-intensive.
Pang said state officials will need to obtain the permission of homeowners before placing the poisoned oats on lawns.
He said the placement will have to be done with discretion because birds could eat the tainted food and die.
Pang indicated the danger posed to humans by poisoned oats is minimal because a man would have to consume a pound of poisoned oats to die, and very little will be placed on each lawn.
State health officials on Oahu said yesterday they were progressing in controlling Maui's booming mouse population.
"The numbers of mice in most areas has declined or leveled off," Health Director Bruce Anderson said. "However, there is still concern about the significant increase of mice in the Kihei-Wailea area on the island of Maui; this is where the majority of murine typhus cases have been reported."
Residents, especially those living in Maui Meadows, said they were still seeing a large number of mice inside and outside their homes.
Terry Applegate, a Maui Meadows resident, said he is still seeing four to five mice a day inside his house, despite putting traps in and outside his home.
"I've lived here 14 years and I've never experienced this thing," he said.
On the Big Island, the mouse population appears to have leveled off or declined in Waikoloa, Kohala Estate and Maunakea areas, officials said. However, the population appears to have increased in Kawaihae Village, Anekoa and Kanehoa areas.
The number of mice trapped on Kauai has been declining, and data indicate problem areas identified earlier in June are under control, officials said.
Health officials said the mouse population on Oahu has not raised concern, but the department will monitor Leeward areas to identify any trends.
Pang said health officials also plan to conduct a study to determine the number of rodents in various areas of Maui that carry murine typhus. He said the results will probably be available by next year.
Murine typhus, a bacterial infection, is contracted usually after a flea bites an infected rodent, then bites a human being.
Symptoms include fever, headache, body ache, rashlike hives, nausea and stomachaches.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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