Surprise! Mice in New York City are not squeaky clean. In this case, I'm not referring to computer mice (although they can be pretty dirty too) but mice that run around and go squeak squeak. Two studies recently published in the journal mBio showed what kind of bacteria and viruses that mice in the Big Apple may be carrying.
Both studies were conducted by researchers from Columbia University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and RMC Pest Management Consulting. One of the studies tested for the type of bacteria in the poop of the small furry NYC residents. Some lucky people on the research team collected 416 mice from predominantly residential buildings in seven locations in New York City. The mouse poop contained many different strains of bacteria, such as Shigella, Salmonella, Clostridium difficile, and diarrheagenic Escherichia coli, that could cause gastrointestinal disease (otherwise known as trouble in your tummy and potentially beyond) in humans. Even more concerning, a number of these bacteria appeared resistant to traditionally used antibiotics such as fluoroquinolones (including those that end in -floxacin like ciprofloxacin, and levofloxacin) and β-lactams (including those antibiotics derived from penicillin and ending in -illin as well as cephalosporins, monobactams, and carbapenems).
The second study entailed testing the mouse poop for genetic sequences found in viruses. The testing revealed genetic sequences for 36 different types of viruses, including 6 completely new viruses. The heavier the mouse, the more viruses the mouse seemed to carry. While the researchers did not find genetic sequences for viruses known to cause diseases in humans, they did find ones for viruses that can infect dogs, chickens, and pigs. Thus, mice could be serving as little Ubers or Lyfts for viruses between species. And since viruses can mutate, mice could possibly carry viruses that infect humans, if not now, maybe some time in the near future.
Therefore, you need to take mice seriously. Don't think of mice as a furry little creatures that are not rats. Mice can be very much like rats. Besides carrying bacteria and viruses, mice can also carry insects such as fleas. They also poop and pee a fair amount, including potentially into your food.
By the way, never inhale mouse poop either inadvertently or deliberately. (If you do deliberately inhale poo, what's wrong with you?) As the mBio studies showed, mice poop can have potentially dangerous microbes. Plus, their poop and pee can cause allergic reactions. When handling mouse poop wear protective gloves (and a respirator preferably if available), seal the poop in a bag, and thoroughly clean the area. Don't use a vacuum cleaner or a broom because that may spread the poop and the microbes. And for Pete's sake, don't use a leaf blower.
Another problem is that when mice get it on, so to speak, two mice can quickly produce many others. As John Travolta sang in the movie Grease, "they're multiplying." If you see a mouse in your house or apartment, then there's a decent chance that there are a lot more.
How do you prevent mice from invading your domicile? Try to seal off any openings that will allow a mouse to sneak in and remain hidden. Also, keep your place clean and food properly stored. Next to your pillow in an open container is not properly stored.
What do you do if you spot a mouse? Well, there are a variety of traps and poisons that you can use. You may want to consult an exterminator because leaving poison all over your place without knowing what you are doing is an unsettling idea and you saw what Jerry did to Tom in the Tom and Jerry cartoons.
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