Amid reports of mice biting patients at medical facilities, untold damage to rural properties, homes and machinery, added to the inconvenience of disruptions to phone services comes the sobering message from one NSW farmer that the current mice plague will "get worse before it gets better".
As our farmers continue to count the cost, reports of mice damage on and off farm are becoming the norm with the destructive force of the rodents continuing to spread unabated throughout regional and rural NSW.
And to make matter worse, Inverell farmer Martin Murray, who is the deputy chair of NSW Young Farmers, warned earlier this month the crisis will get worse.
Mr Murray told ACM crop damage over the summer had ranged from $350 to $500 a hectare including baiting costs with some crops being abandoned entirely.
"This is a crisis that will get worse before it gets better," Mr Murray warned.
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Too little too late
Last week the State Government announced a support package, but is it too little too late.
NSW Farmers have called the package "impractical" and "dysfunctional", saying immediate rebates for agricultural primary producers are a necessity.
The association has proposed a 50 per cent rebate be offered to farmers for current and previous bait expenses, with a cap of $25,000 on repayment.
Riverina farmer and chairman of the local NSW Farmers branch Alan Brown said the funding does nothing for primary producers who lost thousands trying to protect crops from the vermin before the government stepped in.
Off farm, there have been reports of patients at NSW Health facilities bitten by mice.
Three residents or patients at facilities in Tottenham, Walgett and Gulargambone received minor bites, a spokeswoman told AAP in March.
And telephone services are increasingly being disrupted.
On one weekend in March the pests chewed through a number of cables at Gilgandra impacting 3G and 4G services in and around the town.
They struck again in April impacting services at Werris Creek, Quirindi and Caroona.
And just last week phone and internet connections were disrupted across thousands of square kilometres of the Riverina after not one but two cables 230km apart were damaged, wreaking havoc on dozens of mobile sites on the local network.
The damage left much of the region and south-western NSW without service.
A back-up line was lost at Barmedman when a power issue was caused by mice damaging the equipment needed for transmission, and then the main line was cut several hours later near Adelong.
NSW Western Area Health Service has also reported a case of leptospirosis - a rare disease which can cause kidney failure and meningitis - as a result of mice in domestic dwellings.
Thirty-eight loads of washing in three days
Domestically, Barmedman farmer Lisa Minogue says she had to do 38 loads of washing in three days due to the plague.
"The smell is horrific, you can pick up all the mice you see but there is always more," Ms Minogue said.
The current plague had its infancy as farmers harvested a bumper crop late last year.
Relief is unlikely in the short term but when it comes one expert says it will be "pretty dramatic".
"I wish I could say when exactly, but these things do end pretty abruptly - you just can't predict precisely when," University of New England Natural History Museum zoology collection manager Dr Karl Vernes told ACM earlier this month.
Dr Vernes is a wildlife ecologist specialising in mammals.
"It's a combination of food resources dropping away, an increase in the predation of the animals and the fact they have a very short lifecycle," he said.
"The end of the problem will be pretty dramatic because what the mice are currently doing is increasing their population very quickly while there is a lot of food around, but what will happen is the mice will overshoot the natural carrying capacity of the environment to support them.
"At that point, there is a lot of starving mice, and the population will just crash.
"They're still there, of course, but back at the level they were before the plague," he said.
New ways to combat the problem
Until then, rural and regional NSW continues to explore ways to combat the problem.
The breeding pattern of mice doesn't aid efforts to have an impact on their numbers with mice starting to breed when they're about six weeks old.
They can then have a litter of three to 14 pups every 19 to 21 days after that.
In search of a solution some householders are sticking to basic cheese in a trap, while others have pet cats to tackle the job.
But for Orange couple Lyn and John McDonell, a little more thought goes into it.
"My husband uses sundried tomatoes that we dried out ages ago and peanut butter. It has to be something they have to chew because if it's something they have to eat easily, they can escape the trap, but if it's something they have to chew it keeps them on longer," Mrs McDonell told ACM.
Home cleaner Sue Hodge, who is based in the central west town of Canowindra, warns we should "never underestimate a mouse".
"They tend to dribble urine as they move along, potentially on your pillow," she said.
And in the kitchen Ms Hodge warns your "Toasters for mice are like a restaurant. Eat in or takeaway,".
"Mice can get through holes the size of a 5-cent piece. Never underestimate a mouse," she added.
One expert has warned disease from wild mice can spread to humans and domestic animals.
Dr Andrew Peters has urged people to take precautions when disposing of hundreds of mice a day to minimise the risks.
Dangers of urine and faeces
The Associate Professor in Wildlife Health and Pathology with CSU's School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences warned of the dangers of mouse urine and faeces in food, or dead mice contaminating water tanks, potentially proving harmful to the health of people and their pets.
Contact with wild mice can lead to symptoms ranging from nothing to very serious illness, including leptospirosis and salmonella, and hospitalisation, he reports.
"There are a number of infectious diseases in mice that can cause illness in people, especially through contamination of food or water," he said.
As the state attempts to come to terms with the plague business is booming for professional pest controllers, and mouse control stockists are selling out fast.
Grazag's Armidale depot recently reported it has absolutely no stock of any kind of mouse control, and it was not clear when they will be getting more. Statewide Pest Control Tamworth director Mardi Bruyn told ACM she's holding out hope for cold and wet weather soon, so the natural elements might be able to help get the plague under control.
"It's honestly getting dire for us trying to get rodent bait, people are just buying it by the 10-kilogram bucket and for us it's just crazy," she said.
On farm, NSW, farmers are dealing with damage and contamination to last season's winter crop as well as stored fodder.
Preliminary results of a survey conducted by NSW Farmers of 1300 primary producers found that 94pc had to bait for mice.
"Reports show that the impacts are escalated by the cumulative effect of recent drought, bushfires and flood events," the survey said.