Vehicles in Manitoba are being written off due to concern over hantavirus spread by deer mice. ((CBC))

That squeak in your car may not be the springs.

A rising number of auto insurance claims are being filed by Manitobans complaining of mice nesting in their vehicles, the culmination of several wet summers that send the mice hunting for a dry refuge.

Wendy Bezan of Inglis, Man., was taking her grandchildren to her son's farm when she noticed an unusual odour from her 1997 Chrysler Intrepid. She opened the trunk and found mice nesting in the wheel well.

"It just stunk," said Bezan. "I started looking around and I could see there were mouse droppings. And then I took the spare tire out of the tire well and there was mice in there and there was dead mice in there."

"I just felt sick. It was really, really gross. The smell was just terrible."

Bezan's car had just been parked in the family driveway, not a garage, but the mice had moved in looking for a dry place to nest.

Her son let the family cats take care of the immediate problem in the trunk, but Crown-owned Manitoba Public Insurance Corp. told Bezan to stay out of the car due to concern over hantavirus, which is spread by deer mice and can cause a deadly lung disease.

The insurance company handled almost 300 mouse-damage claims from Manitobans last year and paid out over $400,000.

MPIC said that because of the concern over hantavirus, 60 per cent of the vehicles damaged by mice are written off.