Lindsay Andrews is a victim of the latest plague to carve through regional NSW.
The Quirindi small business owner last month became one of dozens in the region to be struck down by leptospirosis.
He spent weeks bedridden but the disease, which was spread by the region's mice plague, can cause renal failure and even kill.
With Hunter New England Health (HNEH) statistics showing rates of infection are going through the roof, Mr Andrews is speaking out to to stop others falling victim to the same debilitating ailment.
"It's probably the sickest I've ever been in my whole life," he said.
"It was painful to get up and go to the toilet or go to the doctor, it was awful. I'm a handwashing Nazi now. If you do anything in the shed around anywhere you suspect mice, I just put gloves on and if it's dusty, I put a mask on."
HNEH public health physician, Dr David Durrheim, said the disease, which is spread in animal urine, is ordinarily a rare problem in most parts of Australia.
"Generally we have two leptospirosis cases on average per year, up to this time in the year that are notified. This year we've had 28," he said.
"So that, I think, on its own bat says that this is a considerable issue."
Anywhere the state's mouse plague hits it has taken the bacterial infection with it, he said.
The best cure is prevention.
"It would be wonderful to say avoid any contact with mice, but we know that's very challenging at the moment," he said.
"It's really important that any contact outdoors in any moist environment or anywhere where mice may have been, where they may have contaminated the environment with urine, that one is very careful with skin cuts or abrasions. Make sure those are covered, make sure one washes ones hands or any exposed areas very, very carefully."
He discouraged people from swimming in potentially contaminated recreational water, and encouraged them to wear shoes in moist environments.
For those who do contract leptospirosis, Dr Durrheim said the infection can be easily cured with antibiotics, but if left too long can cause organ failure and even death.
He urged locals with symptoms, which are similar to a very bad flu but can also include conjunctivitis, to get checked. Local doctors have been recently trained to see the signs and identify almost all cases, he said.
Mr Andrews isn't sure where he caught leptospirosis, but he said his case proves everyone is at risk as long as the mouse plague persists.
"You don't have to be a farmer. I'm not a farmer and I can get it. So to the extent some of these farms have got mice, well it's pretty important that it's dealt with as far as health goes," he said.
"I've been telling everyone around me that I know, 'don't be complacent about your hygiene'. I know people that still pick them up with their bare hands. It's just not worth it. It flattened me, I know that."
Dr Durrheim said there's only one foolproof way to eliminate the risk completely.
"Let's all pray that we get rid of these blooming mice as quickly as possible! The risk remains obviously while there's still mice around," he said.
"The risk is more manageable while it's drier, but clearly we're really hoping to see an end to this mouse plague for a whole host of reasons."
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