With the cool weather here, mice and other rodents are looking for warm sheltered places to overwinter. Unfortunately this includes homes and business across the state. According to experts at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) mice have the capacity to spread disease through direct and indirect contact. Direct contact is defined as coming into contact with mice droppings, urine, saliva and mice bites. Indirect contact may be defined as being bitten by an infected tick, flea or mite which has consumed a blood meal from an infected mouse before transmitting the disease to humans. Effective Pest Services explores some of the dangerous ways diseases can be transmitted from mice to humans below.
How Do Mice Transmit Diseases?
Diseases can be transmitted to humans via direct and indirect contact including:
• Directly via a bite
• Directly by consuming or handling food contaminated with mouse dropping or urine
• Directly via airborne dust particles contaminated with dried mouse droppings
• Indirectly via the bite of a mite, flea, or tick
• Indirectly by domesticated animals that have come into contact with mice
• Indirectly by drinking from a contaminated water source
Types of illness & Disease Spread By Mice
• Tapeworms: Mice act as host for small tapeworms called hymenolepis that can spread to humans who consume food that has been contaminated with mouse droppings or by individuals who have come into contact with mouse droppings on their hands. The parasites hatch in the gut where they grow and reproduce into tapeworms.
• Hantavirus: This is a disease that is transmitted by rodents which can be life-threatening in humans. The virus itself can be found in rodent droppings and urine although it does not manifest in symptoms which make the mouse sick. Humans are can become infected when they come into contact with contaminated droppings or dust. Early symptoms include muscle aches, fever, chills, dry cough, and shortness of breath, headache, vomiting and weakness.
• Salmonella: This is a food-borne illness. It is transmitted via mice and other rodents which contaminate food preparation surfaces and along with any food they come into contact with. Symptoms of infection include abdominal cramping, fever, and diarrhea which can last for up to 7 days. Younger children and the elderly are particularly susceptible.
• Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCMV): This is a viral infection which can cause serious neurological issues such as aseptic meningitis (inflammation of the tissue which surrounds the spinal cord and brain) in those that have become infected. It can often be found in the common house mouse, other rodents including hamsters found in pet stores are also known to carry the virus. Infection occurs after exposure to droppings, saliva, or materials that have been used for nesting.
Rodents Spread Disease Via Infected Parasites
Some diseases which can be transmitted via insects including ticks and fleas include:
• Lyme Disease
• Colorado Tick Fever
• Babesiosis – malaria-like parasitic disease
• Rickettsialpox – mite-borne infectious illness caused by bacteria