One of the things no homeowner wants to deal with is pests. Bugs, mice, rats, and other animals sneak into our homes, looking for warmth, food, and shelter from the elements. While the idea of having these creatures crawling around in your attic, walls, or crawlspace can feel creepy and unsanitary, you will find a more serious problem that these unwanted houseguests can bring with them.
Rats and mice rank as the most notorious home invaders in the animal kingdom, and they can introduce a host of diseases to any environment they inhabit. In this blog, we’ll discuss the chances of getting sick from mouse droppings, what kind of diseases you can get from them, and the best ways to protect yourself.
For professional rodent proofing and removal, call Attic Projects Company today.
Can You Get Sick From Mouse Droppings?
Many people think that as long as they don’t come in direct contact with mice or rats, they don’t need to worry about the danger of sickness or infection. However, the truth might surprise you: If mice or rats nest anywhere in your home, you and your family could be at risk for several diseases. These vermin carry diseases and spread them through their feces, urine, and saliva.
For those who have wondered, “can you get sick from mouse droppings?” the answer may be more alarming than you’d think. Mouse and rat poop can be very dangerous, causing illnesses that could become deadly if not treated properly.
Accidentally touching rodent poop remains the easiest way to get one of these diseases. However, old rodent feces dries out and releases particles into the air. Once the fecal particles become airborne, you can breathe them in and catch a serious disease or illness.
Diseases Caused by Mouse Droppings
People with rodent infestations in their homes can catch several kinds of diseases from mouse or rat poop. Below we’ll discuss the most common types of illnesses caused by mouse droppings, their symptoms, and how most people become infected.
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a serious respiratory disease that affects humans infected with hantaviruses. HPS sometimes proves fatal, with a 38% mortality rate. People who have been in contact with rodents carrying hantaviruses or have come in contact with their saliva, urine, or feces are at risk for HPS.
Unlike other diseases that only affect the elderly or infirm, HPS can infect healthy people of any age. Some of the most common ways people become infected with HPS include:
- Airborne Transmission: Stirring up rodent urine, feces, or nesting materials can cause particles or droplets to enter the air you breathe.
- Contact: Touching mouse poop, urine, or saliva before touching your mouth or nose is another way scientists think many people contract the disease.
- Contaminated Food: Eating food contaminated with the feces, saliva, or urine of an infected mouse or rat can cause someone to become sick.
- Biting: Although rare, an infected rodent that bites someone will put them at risk for HPS.
Symptoms of HPS can develop anywhere between one and eight weeks after exposure to hantaviruses. The early signs of HPS that seem to be universal for infected people include:
- Muscle aches
Some people experience some additional issues in the early stages of HPS, including:
- Abdominal pain
The late symptoms of HPS, coughing and difficulty breathing, indicate the disease is attacking the respiratory system. Those experiencing late-stage symptoms of HPS need to get to a hospital immediately. The earlier treatment begins, the more likely it will be successful.
The bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death, is the disease responsible for wiping out nearly a third of the population of Europe between 1346 and 1352. While many commonly associate the disease with rats, mice can also carry and spread bubonic plague since it transmits to humans through the bites of rodent fleas.
Many assume that the bubonic plague was wiped out and no longer exists. It’s nowhere near as prevalent as it was back in the 1300s, but those who come in contact with wild rodents can still find themselves at risk of exposure.
Within two to eight days after exposure to bubonic plague, those infected will experience the following symptoms:
- Muscle ache
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, groin, or armpit
Chances of contracting bubonic plague remain low in today’s world, but the infection can still be fatal. Those with plague symptoms receive antibiotic treatment to reverse the effects.
Leptospirosis (Weil’s Disease)
Leptospirosis, also called Weil’s disease, refers to a bacterial infection carried by rats, mice, cattle, dogs, and pigs. While you cannot contract leptospirosis through rodent droppings, the urine you may come in contact with while cleaning or sweeping droppings contains the disease.
People get Weil’s disease through contact with infected urine while they have exposed to cuts or abrasions on their bodies. This type of bacterial infection can also enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth, so simply touching your face after touching rodent urine may cause the infection.
The signs of leptospirosis arrive shortly after infection and include the following:
- High fever
- Joint pain
- Muscle ache
- Abdominal pain
- Red eyes
- Loss of appetite
Those who contract Weil’s disease receive antibiotics from killing the infection and pain medication for muscle aches, pains, or fever. Patients suffering from leptospirosis generally recover within one or two weeks.
Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM) is a disease spread through infection of the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). This rodent-borne illness spreads primarily through infected house mice, with cases of LCMV reported throughout Europe, Australia, North America, South America, and Japan.
LCM transmission occurs when someone with exposed cuts or scrapes comes in contact with infected rodent urine, poop, or saliva. LCMV can also enter the body through the nose, mouth, or ocular cavities.
People infected with LCM usually experience an onset of symptoms between eight and thirteen days following exposure. The most common early-stage symptoms last about a week and include:
- Muscle ache
- Loss of appetite
Some less frequent symptoms experienced in the initial phase of LCM are:
- Sore throat
- Chest pain
- Joint pain
- Salivary gland pain
- Testicular pain
After a brief recovery period, many people experience a second wave of illness, such as:
- Meningitis: Severe headache, high fever, confusion, seizures, stiff neck, and light sensitivity
- Encephalitis: Difficulty speaking, disorientation, seizures, personality changes, paralysis, loss of consciousness, and sensory issues
- Meningoencephalitis: Inflammation of the brain and the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord
LCM is not a permanent ailment. Those infected receive treatment with anti-inflammatory medication like corticosteroids until the virus leaves the body. LCMV has caused an increase in fluid around the brain for some who contract the virus, requiring surgical draining to relieve pressure.
Most people recognize salmonella as a type of food poisoning, but you can find the bacteria that causes it in mouse and rat feces. Most salmonella cases in the U.S. occur due to household rodent infestation. Humans contract salmonella after ingesting food or drinks contaminated with feces from an infected animal.
Those infected with salmonella begin to experience symptoms anywhere from six hours to six days following infection. The most common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite.
Salmonella is not fatal, but the initial symptoms can become severe. Most symptoms will pass after a few hours, while it may take four to seven days to recover completely. Those suffering the effects of salmonella should drink plenty of fluids until symptoms dissipate.
How To Protect Yourself From Mouse Droppings
The best way to reduce the chances of getting sick from mouse droppings remains to keep them out of your home. Check the inside and outside of your house for small areas where mice and rats can enter, and seal up any you find. Try not to leave food around, and reseal all food before you put it away.
When we do rodent proofing and removal at Attic Projects, we inspect all the areas in your attic and crawlspace to find the entry points the mice or rats use, sealing them up permanently. Once we seal the house, we use the most advanced cleaning and sterilization methods to remove all rodent poop, urine, and bacteria from your home. Handling rodent droppings proves dangerous, so make the best choice and hire a professional with the right tools and safety equipment to remove them for you.
If you want to reduce your chances of getting sick from mouse droppings, you need a team of professionals with the training and experience necessary to guarantee your rodent problem won’t return.
The technicians at Attic Projects know how to remove mice and rats from your home humanely and eliminate dangerous bacteria to keep you safe. Call us to get your free estimate today.