Mouse droppings cause respiratory disease -

Mouse droppings cause disease

Just the thought of a mouse sends shivers up Becky Gulden's spine.

"They're just so little, and they can scurry anywhere, and they're gross looking. They're creepy," she says.

Creepy and prolific. A female house mouse can give birth to more than 50 mice in a single year.

"I absolutely hate them," Gulden adds.

Mice are one of the most resilient mammals living on the planet. Some people have them as pets, and they're also used in laboratory experiments.

If wild mice find a way inside your home, they can potentially cause thousands of dollars in damage to your drywall and insulation.

They can also transmit a harmful disease that can cause death in humans.

Some mice in the United States have been known to transmit hantaviruses, which can cause a respiratory disease called Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome.

The symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscles aches, followed by coughing and shortness of breath. 

Most people get sick after breathing air contaminated with the virus, which is transmitted through mouse urine, droppings and saliva.

Nearly 600 cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome have been reported in 34 states.

New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona lead the nation with the highest number of cases. Nearly four out of 10 cases reported results in death.

Your best defense is keeping mice out of your home in the first place.

Mike Rogers owns an extermination service called Killingsworth Environmental located in Charlotte, North Carolina.

He says you should walk around your home at least once a year and look for any openings where mice could enter.

If you can put your finger in it, Rogers says a mouse could easily crawl inside.

"When you are looking at it from a mouse's perspective, that's like a garage door for them to walk through," Rogers says.

Rodents are unable to gnaw through steel wool, and that's why it's perfect for plugging larger holes around your home. 

We found a small opening in some vinyl siding around a gas line and used spray foam to fill the empty hole.

You should also trim shrubs and hedges from your foundation to prevent mice from nesting. Then, you'll be able to see the cracks or holes in your foundation that need to be sealed with caulk.

Mice want food, water and shelter -- not unlike humans -- which is why your home is desirable to them.

They'll usually leave clues behind if they've moved in.

If you find mice droppings, chances are their nest is within an 8-foot radius.

Inside your home, check the kitchen first. Rodents are warm-blooded, and that's why they often nest in the wall behind your stove where it's warm and cozy.

Make sure to check all areas where you store food.

"You could go to the nicest grocery store anywhere and shop and feel confident you're in the most beautiful place in the world to buy your food. You start thinking about the places they get their food -- the warehouses, the manufacturing facilities -- you never know what you're going to bring home from the grocery store," Rogers says. 

The best way to get rid of mice is to eliminate their food source.

Make sure your food products and your pet's food are sealed or in plastic containers.

If mice are already in your home, you can find an arsenal of weapons at your local home improvement store to eliminate your problem.

We found poisons, traps with sticky pads, as well as the old-fashioned spring-loaded mousetrap.

Once you have put poison out or baited your mousetrap, don't just stick it somewhere and forget about it, or you could end up with a stinky mess.

"You've got to be careful with snap traps because, sometimes, you can just wound an animal as opposed to killing it," Rogers says.  

And put on rubber gloves before you ever remove a dead mouse or their droppings.

Clean up mouse and rat urine, droppings and nesting materials with a disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water. 

If all else fails, call in a professional extermination service.

Your greatest chance of being exposed to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome occurs when you work or play in areas where rodents live like cabins, sheds, barns and outbuildings.

Additional Information:

  • Click here for more information about the signs and symptoms for Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome.
  • The first spring-loaded mouse trap was invented by William C. Hooker of Abingdon Illinois who received US patent 528671 for his design in 1894. (Source: Wikipedia)
  • Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is a disease transmitted by mice. The disease is spread by breathing in dust contaminated with rodent urine or droppings, direct contact with rodents or their urine and droppings, and bite wounds although this does not happen frequently.  (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • Click to read more about diseases directly transmitted by rodents.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 500 cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome have been reported in the US. (Source: CDC)
  • While HPS is a very rare disease, cases have occurred in all regions of the United States except for Alaska and Hawaii. (Source: CDC)
  • Three-quarters of the patients who have with Hantavirus live in rural areas but cases have also been reported in larger cities, too. (Source: CDC)
  • If you live in the western United States, you may be at risk for plague carried by fleas from rodents. Use insect repellent (containing DEET) on clothing, shoes, and hands to reduce the risk of flea-bites while picking up dead rodents. Contact your local or state health department to find out if plague is a danger in your area and for more information on other flea-control methods. (Source: CDC)

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