How the mice plague almost cost a farmer his life

·3-min read

A NSW farmer almost died after contracting an illness from the devastating mice plague ravaging parts of the state. 

Darrell Jordison, from Gulargambone just north of Dubbo, has been battling the plague for more than six months.

Having copped a brutal plague already in 2010, nothing prepared him for what he would experience this year. 

"You could go down with a spotlight at night and you could see mice up the branches of the canola," he told Channel Nine's Today show. 

"Like lights on a Christmas tree. They were everywhere.

"We were setting traps every night, traps that hold 30 or 35 mice in them. We had nine or 10 of them every night. They were choc-a-block full."

Darrell Jordison almost died due to the mouse plague. Source: Today
Darrell Jordison almost died due to the mouse plague. Source: Today

This year's plague has been so catastrophic, not only has it impacted Mr Jordison's crop and income, it also nearly cost him his life. 

He told the Today show he started suffering symptoms after Christmas, feeling lethargic and sore.

"I was just down in energy and drained," he said. 

In February, his condition had deteriorated so drastically his wife was forced to call an ambulance.

"My temperature was sky high ... I had a temperature of nearly 40," he told the program.

"I became sensitive to light – I couldn't handle the light being in my eyes." 

Floored by rodent-borne meningitis

Mr Jordison said he could not eat and lost 11 kilograms, and thought at the time he was going to die. 

After his health suffered for five weeks, doctors confirmed he was suffering from Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis, a type of rodent-borne bacterial meningitis.

Doctors told the farmer the call to the ambulance saved his life and he would not have made it until morning.

Darrell Jordison was suffering from a rodent-borne bacteria. Source: Today
Darrell Jordison was suffering from a rodent-borne bacteria. Source: Today

"I wasn't taking any risk with the mice but I was told that just picking up a bale of hay and having some urine on the string, not washing my hands, it is that simple to get it," he told Today.

Mr Jordison isn't the only one whose health has suffered as a result of the horrific mice plague. 

Hotel owner Trevor Hardie, from Dunedoo, told The Daily Telegraph he began feeling sick in April and thought he had the coronavirus

A week later, he was rushed to hospital in an ambulance with acute kidney failure, liver failure and a leaky heart valve. 

Doctors told him he had caught leptospirosis, a disease spread from animals to humans through the bacteria Leptospira. 

It is a bacteria that can also be found in mouse urine.

Fear of two-year mice plague

NSW Farmers Vice President Xavier Martin said farmers were abandoning some paddocks and couldn't defer sowing winter crops any longer, while researchers warn that "without a concerted baiting effort in the next few weeks this could easily turn into a two-year plague event".

The government-funded Mouse Alert website indicates sightings have doubled since March, with a growing number of mice being sighted in and around Sydney.

Dead mice seen at a property in Gilgandra, NSW. Source: AAP
Dead mice seen at a property in Gilgandra, NSW. Source: AAP

The NSW government said it had secured 5000 litres of the super deadly rodent poison bromadiolone – enough to treat about 95 tonnes of grain – offering to provide it for free once federal authorities approve its use.

Farmers however are concerned about the poison's possible effect on farm dogs, piggeries and other animals.

"The state government's assistance package is impractical, dysfunctional and weeks away, which is not helping farmers who need support right now to drive mouse numbers down and break this horrible unrelenting cycle," Mr Martin said last month.

with AAP

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