Diseases That Mice Carry

If you see one mouse in your home, there are almost certainly more nearby. Depending on how long the rodents have gone unnoticed, there may even be an infestation. Female mice reach sexual maturity about six weeks after birth and begin breeding. Gestation lasts about three weeks, after which five or more babies are born.

After a mouse delivers a litter, she can begin reproducing again within a few days. Mice typically only live one or two years, but in that time, a female can give birth every three weeks. In one year, one female mouse can deliver at least 86 babies.

With each litter, the females that were born are themselves ready to breed within six weeks. You can see how a mouse infestation can grow to a number that would fit in with a horror film. In less than a year, you can be outnumbered by the hundreds. While these infestations cause damage, you may also be wondering, can mice carry diseases? In fact, infestations are particularly dangerous because rodents can easily spread mice diseases to people.

How Do Mice Spread Diseases to People?

It's bad enough to have an infestation, but to know that mice spread diseases to people through direct and indirect methods makes it worse. Mouse urine and feces harbor diseases and can grow mold spores that can float through the air. If mice build nests in your air ventilation systems, the spores can travel throughout your home and into your living spaces, where they linger until inhaled.

If you clean urine or feces, you risk coming into contact with these diseases directly. Wearing protective gloves, masks, and clothing can help, but they are not guaranteed. Handling a mouse also puts you at risk of being bitten or scratched, two more ways you can contract a disease. Bacteria in mouse saliva and under their nails can lead to dangerous infections.

In addition, mice contaminate cereals, grains, and other groceries bought with hard-earned money. If you accidentally consume contaminated foods, you may also be consuming pathogens left behind by the mice.

Directly Transmitted Mice Diseases

Hantavirus and the Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) occur when humans encounter infected white-footed mice, deer mice, or house mice. Hantavirus mimics the flu, and doctors may misdiagnose you based on your symptoms of headaches, dizziness, coughing, digestive issues, shortness of breath, and a tightness in the chest. It can turn into hantavirus pulmonary syndrome if not correctly treated right away. There may be internal bleeding as well as fluid buildup in the lungs. Even worse, there is a chance of respiratory failure, pulmonary edema, cardiac failure, tachycardia, low blood pressure, and shock.

Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM) is primarily hosted in the house mouse. Symptoms appear in two phases. The first phase can feel like a bad case of the flu but may also include a sore throat, cough, testicular pain, and digestive issues. The second phase can morph into meningitis, encephalitis, and other neurological problems, making daily life nearly impossible.

Salmonellosis is a type of food poisoning that starts in the intestinal tracts of rodents. Humans may experience diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and stomach cramps if they get it.

Leptospirosis is like salmonellosis, a form of food poisoning. Similar to other diseases, initial symptoms make you feel like you have the flu due to fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, vomiting, and diarrhea. However, meningitis, kidney failure, or lung failure comprise a second possible phase of Leptospirosis.

Tularemia can be spread by most rodents. The bacteria can trigger inflammation in your lymph glands, eyes, and throat. Sub-symptoms include mouth sores, flu-like symptoms, and breathing troubles.

Other mice diseases include the following:

  • Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome
  • Lassa Fever
  • Lujo Hemorrhagic Fever
  • Monkeypox
  • Omsk Hemorrhagic Fever
  • Rat-Bite Fever
  • South American Arenaviruses including Argentine Hemorrhagic Fever, Bolivian Hemorrhagic Fever, Chapare Hemorrhagic Fever, Sabia-associated Hemorrhagic Fever, and Venezuelan Hemorrhagic Fever
  • Sylvatic Typhus

Indirectly Transmitted Mice Diseases

Mice diseases are spread indirectly by carrying ectoparasites on their outer bodies. If these parasites are infected with bacteria, sickness often follows. Examples of parasites with indirect risks for humans include the following:

  • Body lice (but not head and pubic lice) spread Rickettsia prowazekii, which can lead to epidemic typhus. These lice also spread louse-born relapsing fever and Bartonella quintana.
  • Ticks found on mice can vary by region, but all can spread diseases. Such ticks spread at least sixteen diseases we know of, including Lyme, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mounted spotted fever, anaplasmosis, Powassan, and tularemia.
  • Mites may come into your home via mice and may spread dermatitis, trombiculosis, and mite dust allergy.
  • Fleas hosting on mice can indirectly spread bubonic plague, murine typhus, tungiasis, tularemia, and allergies.
  • Mosquitoes that feed on infected mice can pass those infections on to humans. These insects are best known for spreading the Zika, West Nile virus, malaria, and Chikungunya viruses.

What Not to Do

When encountering a mouse, you probably have one thought after reading through thus far: get rid of it as fast as possible. This way of thinking is expected but can also put you at risk if you rush in too quickly and use the wrong method. Here are a few examples of what you should not do to get rid of mice.

Don’t Vacuum

Getting rid of a mouse infestation can put you at risk for disease if you don’t use the correct protective gear. Many people vacuum feces and urine without knowing they are sending spores into the air to be inhaled by anyone in the home, potentially resulting in respiratory problems among other issues. Sweeping does the same thing.

Don’t Disturb It

Homeowners who find a dead mouse may think picking it up by the tail and flinging it outdoors is okay. However, there are protocols to follow to avoid contracting a disease. Yes, even dead animals can spread diseases. How? By accidentally coming into contact with the mouse's still-living ectoparasites or its body fluids, sharp teeth, and claws. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and a step-by-step process can help you avoid mice diseases, whether the mouse is alive or dead.

For example, rather than throwing the carcass outside and exposing your pets and other animals to diseases, put the mouse in a container, put it in a compost pile, bury it, or burn it. Alternatively, you can also let the professionals do all the dirty work and handle it for you.

How Critter Control Protects You

The experts at Critter Control use a three-step process to get rid of mice in your home. First, they inspect your property to determine the size of the infestation. They then choose traps and baits that will work best on the first attempt. A search will also be performed to discover all the tiny holes, the size of a dime or bigger, that allow mice to enter your home, and these professionals will take action to prevent subsequent critter visitors. As they examine your house for entry points, they will also check for other damage the rodents may have caused.

Finally, Critter Control technicians use safe cleanup methods to remove everything from the mice to their waste. Hiring our experts gives you confidence that the mice infestation will be dealt with now and in the future.

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