Coming in contact with fresh mouse droppings in a place with poor ventilation can increase your chances of getting sick from mouse droppings. The risk and type of infection can also be influenced by where you live. Whether you live in an area with rodents like rats, mice, prairie dogs, or chipmunks, there are steps you can take to protect yourself, as these animals are known to spread diseases.
Even if they typically avoid direct contact with people, living near them still poses a risk of developing these diseases.
Mouse droppings can carry harmful bacteria and viruses that can make people sick. Some of these illnesses can be severe or even deadly, especially for certain individuals.
The risk of disease from mouse droppings is higher in places with poor ventilation, like attics or basements.
If you spot small, dark droppings about the size and shape of rice grains in your yard, home, car, school, or workplace, it’s likely that there are mice nearby. It’s crucial to handle mouse droppings carefully if you find them around you.
You need to get rid of the mice in your home to reduce your risk of coming into contact with potentially infected mouse droppings.
Keep reading to find out more about the chances of getting a bacterial or viral disease from mouse droppings, and discover ways you can protect yourself from getting sick.
Chances of Getting Sick from Mouse Droppings
The table below gives a general overview of diseases that can be transmitted through mouse droppings:
|Likelihood of Contracting
|Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
|Fever, Muscle aches, Fatigue, etc.
|Inhalation of dust contaminated with droppings
|Can vary, but risk increases with increased exposure and freshness of droppings
|Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM)
|Fever, Lack of appetite, Muscle aches, etc.
|Inhalation of dust contaminated with droppings or direct contact
|Relatively low, but can increase with extended exposure
|Diarrhea, Fever, Abdominal cramps
|Ingestion (usually indirect, from contaminated food or water)
|Relatively low, depends on factors such as personal hygiene and immune system health
|High fever, Headache, Chills, Muscle aches, etc.
|Ingestion or contact with open wounds
|Relatively low, depends on individual health and immune system
|Fever, Rash, Joint pain, etc.
|Bite or scratch from an infected rodent, or exposure to its droppings
|Very low, unless direct contact is made with a diseased rodent
All these conditions are relatively rare though. To decrease your chances of contracting these diseases, ensure you practice good hygiene, avoid contact with mouse droppings, and if necessary, wear protective gear when cleaning areas with mouse infestations.
Certain types of human infections from mouse droppings are more widespread compared to others. The rates of infection differ in different parts of the world.
For instance, Salmonellosis is a very common infection affecting about 93.8 million people globally each year and can be contracted from mouse droppings – Frontiers.
In West Africa, Lassa fever impacts between 100,000 and 300,000 people annually. There are also some infections that are rare but still affect people worldwide – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Where Are Infected Mice Most Commonly Found?
Rodents are present all over the world, and they carry diseases wherever they go. Infections frequently happen in rural areas where people come into close contact with wildlife. In the United States, rodent infections, particularly hantaviruses, are most prevalent in the Western states, where rodents live in larger numbers compared to other regions. However, these illnesses can happen anywhere in the country where rodents are present.
One mouse can produce 50 to 75 droppings per day, so if there are many mice, there can be a lot of droppings – University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension Publications. Mice are often found near human dwellings because they are drawn to the warmth of our vehicles and buildings, as well as the food we cook, eat, and store.
Mouse droppings, along with those from other rodents, can easily contaminate food, water, clothing, and bedding.
Bacterial and viral diseases can spread from mouse droppings when a person touches, inhales, or accidentally ingests them.
How Long Does Mouse Droppings Contain Virus?
Viruses and bacteria can stay infectious for different lengths of time on various surfaces. For example, viruses can remain infectious in mouse droppings for 2 to 3 days at room temperature.
The time may be shorter in the sun, but longer in colder temperatures. Bacteria like Salmonella can survive even longer, lasting for many days or even weeks in mouse droppings.
Diseases Found in Mouse Droppings?
Mice droppings often carry illnesses like:
Arenaviruses are found in rodents in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. These viruses can cause serious illnesses, and some can spread from person to person through contact with contaminated items or the bodily fluids of infected individuals.
One significant disease caused by arenaviruses from mouse droppings is Lassa fever. Mice in West African countries like Sierra Leone and Nigeria carry the virus responsible for Lassa fever, which can be caught from both rodent droppings and urine. Thus, creating chances of getting sick from mouse droppings after exposure to the dropping or urine, typically through sweeping and vacuuming.
Lassa fever is a serious illness that can harm your body and has a high chance of being fatal. The symptoms appear gradually over a few days to weeks and usually start with a fever and weakness, followed by other signs like sore throat, headache, muscle pain, chest weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, cough, and abdominal pain.
In some severe cases, around 20% of people may also have bleeding from their gums, eyes, or nose.
Other viruses from mouse droppings can lead to different illnesses with symptoms similar to Lassa fever, such as Chapare hemorrhagic fever, Lujo hemorrhagic fever, and Argentine hemorrhagic fever.
Rodents in Europe, Asia, and the Americas carry hantaviruses, which can lead to serious illnesses. In Europe and Asia, these viruses can cause a severe condition known as hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome.
It comes with various symptoms, such as intense headaches, back and abdomen pain, fever, chills, nausea, blurred vision, flushed face, inflammation, redness in the eyes, and a rash. In serious situations, it can lead to acute shock, low blood pressure, leakage in blood vessels, and acute kidney failure.
In the Americas, there’s a dangerous and sometimes deadly respiratory disease called Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). You can get it from mouse droppings, so the chance of getting sick from mouse droppings is high. HPS has symptoms that get worse over time. Early signs include muscle aches, fever, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and pain.
Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection caused by Salmonella bacteria. These bacteria can live in the intestines of many animals, including rodents.
The usual symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, stomach cramps, abdominal pain, and fever. These symptoms typically last for 5 to 7 days.
Some people with a Salmonella infection may not show any symptoms. Mild cases of salmonellosis often get better on their own. However, severe cases can be dangerous and even fatal if not treated promptly.
4. Omsk hemorrhagic fever
People living in Western Siberia, Kazakhstan, and Russia face the risk of getting Omsk hemorrhagic fever from rodents and tick bites. This viral infection shows flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, nausea, muscle pain, and cough.
In the later stages, Omsk hemorrhagic fever can lead to bleeding, rash, skin sensitivity, and encephalitis.
While the fatality rate of Omsk hemorrhagic fever is lower compared to some other similar diseases spread by rodents, it can still cause long-term changes in the body.
These changes may include weakness, hearing loss, hair loss, neurological issues, and mental health disorders.
5. Rat-bite fever and Haverhill fever
In North America and Asia, some rodents may carry bacteria that cause rat-bite fever and Haverhill fever. You can also get rat-bite fever if you come into contact with the rodent’s urine or if it bites or scratches you.
Rat-bite fever can be very serious and cause damage to your organs. If not treated promptly, it can be fatal in about 10% of cases.
Symptoms usually show up within 3 to 10 days after being exposed to the bacteria. They include fever, vomiting, headache, swollen lymph nodes, muscle pain, joint pain, and a rash, usually found on your hands and feet.
6. Bubonic Plague
The bubonic plague, also called the Black Death, was a deadly disease that killed almost one-third of Europe’s population from 1346 to 1352. We often link the disease to rats, but mice can also carry and spread it through flea bites.
Some people think the bubonic plague is gone and no longer exists. While it’s not as widespread as it was in the 1300s, those who come in contact with wild rodents can still be at risk of exposure.
So, it’s essential to be cautious around these animals to avoid any potential risks. If someone gets exposed to bubonic plague, they will usually show symptoms within two to eight days, such as:
- Feeling cold and having chills
- Having a headache
- Running a fever
- Having muscle aches
- Feeling tired and fatigued
- Developing swollen lymph nodes in the neck, groin, or armpit
The chances of getting bubonic plague are low in today’s world, but it can still be deadly if someone gets infected.
If someone shows symptoms of the plague, they can receive antibiotic treatment to help reverse its effects.
7. Leptospirosis (Weil’s Disease)
Leptospirosis, also known as Weil’s disease, is a bacterial infection transmitted by rats, mice, cattle, dogs, and pigs.
Although you can’t get leptospirosis from rodent droppings, the disease can be present in the urine that you may encounter while cleaning or sweeping the droppings.
People can contract Weil’s disease by coming into contact with infected urine when they have cuts or abrasions on their bodies.
This bacterial infection can also enter the body through the eyes, nose, or mouth, so touching your face after touching rodent urine could lead to an infection. Leptospirosis shows its signs shortly after infection, which include:
- High fever
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
- Joint pain
- Muscle ache
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
Those who get Weil’s disease are treated with antibiotics to kill the infection and pain medication to relieve muscle aches, pains, or fever. Most patients with leptospirosis usually recover within one or two weeks.
8. Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis
Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM) is a disease caused by the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), which is spread by infected house mice. This illness can be found in various regions, including Europe, Australia, North America, South America, and Japan.
LCM is transmitted when someone with cuts or scrapes on their skin comes into contact with infected rodent urine, poop, or saliva. The virus can also enter the body through the nose, mouth, or eyes.
If someone gets infected with Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM), they usually start experiencing symptoms around eight to thirteen days after exposure. In the early stage, which lasts about a week, the most common symptoms are:
- Muscle ache
- Feeling unwell (malaise)
- Loss of appetite
During the initial phase of Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM), some less common symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Chest pain
- Joint pain
- Pain in the salivary glands
- Testicular pain (in males)
After a short recovery period, many people may experience a second wave of illness with different conditions, such as:
- Meningitis. Includes severe headache, high fever, confusion, seizures, stiff neck, and sensitivity to light.
- Encephalitis. Can lead to difficulty speaking, feeling disoriented, having seizures, experiencing personality changes, paralysis, loss of consciousness, and sensory issues.
- Meningoencephalitis. This condition involves inflammation of the brain and the membranes around the brain and spinal cord.
LCM is not a permanent sickness. People who get infected are treated with anti-inflammatory medication, such as corticosteroids, until the virus goes away. In some cases, LCMV may cause an increase in fluid around the brain, and for those affected, surgical draining might be needed to relieve the pressure.
When to See the Doctor
If you feel unwell or experience symptoms like fever, unusual bleeding, or weakness, it is time to contact a doctor immediately.
This is especially urgent if you’ve recently been around rodents and their droppings. The doctor will examine you, ask about your medical history, and may conduct several tests, including blood and urine tests, to diagnose and create a treatment plan.
Can You Get Sick from Mouse Droppings?
Some people believe that as long as they don’t touch mice or rats, they won’t get sick.
But here’s the surprising truth: If mice or rats make nests in your home, you and your family could be at risk of getting sick due to the high chances of getting sick from mouse droppings. These critters carry diseases and spread them through their poop, urine, and saliva.
If you’ve ever wondered if you can get sick from mouse droppings, the answer is yes, and it’s more alarming than you might expect. Mouse and rat poop can be very dangerous, causing illnesses that could even be deadly if not treated properly. So, it’s important to be cautious and take steps to keep your home free from these pests.
The easiest way to get one of these diseases is by accidentally touching mouse poop. But even if the poop dries out, it can release particles into the air. If you breathe in these particles, you might catch a serious disease or illness. All in all, make sure to avoid coming into contact with mouse droppings in the first place.
Read also: How to clean books with mouse droppings