Can You Get Sick from Cleaning Up Mouse Droppings?

Like many home or business owners, you are likely to find evidence of mice in your residence or business. In most cases, this tell-tale evidence comes in the form of mouse droppings. Up until now, you may have given little to no thought about sweeping up and throwing away mouse droppings.

The reality is that mouse droppings can present a serious health threat to you. The possibility exists that mouse droppings might contain dangers viruses of bacteria that can cause serious, and even fatal, health problems.

You must understand one simple, crucial fact: You can get sick from mouse droppings. In fact, the possibility exists (although fortunately remote) that you can become fatally ill from exposure to mouse droppings.

You have some control over exposure to mouse droppings. For example, you can undertake proactive strategies to keep mice at bay from your home or business. In addition, you can take appropriate safety steps if you sweep up mouse droppings.

On the other hand, there are settings in which you cannot control exposure. You can run the risk of ingesting something contaminated by mouse droppings when you dine out at an eatery.

Most Common Diseases Spread by Mouse Droppings in the United States

The types of diseases spread by mice depends to a significant degree on the geographic location of the rodents. There are three diseases that can be transmitted via mouse droppings to people in the U.S.A. These are:

  • Hantavirus
  • Salmonellosis
  • Rat Bite Fever

Hantavirus

Hantavirus was first discovered in the United States in 1993 in the Four Corners area. During the first decade after the virus was discovered in the country, about 600 cases of hantavirus infection were identified. Of that number, over 200 people died. The fatalities were associated with what is called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a fatal condition that can develop after infection with the hantavirus.

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome stems from damage caused to capillaries in the lungs by the hantavirus. The damage causes the capillaries to burst, resulting in blood flowing into the lungs unchecked.

There is no direct treatment to address hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. The people that recover from the syndrome actually experience a spontaneous cessation of symptoms.

If a person is diagnosed with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, that individual needs to be admitted to an ICU immediately and placed on a ventilator. This helps ease respiratory distress in hopes of getting a patient through the worst part of the syndrome.

Salmonellosis

Most people know of salmonellosis by the terms salmonella poisoning or food poisoning. Salmonellosis can be spread in a number of ways, including through mouse droppings. This typically occurs when mouse droppings, of dust from dried mouse droppings, somehow ends up in or on food items that are then consumed.

Salmonellosis is rarely fatal. However, the remote possibility does exist that a person can die from an infection by this virus.

Salmonellosis can cause health issues, which include:

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain

Rat Bite Fever

Despite being called rat bit fever, a person can become infected with this disease through the consumption of food contaminated by mouse droppings. Rat bite fever is a potentially fatal infection. The risk of dying from this infection is greater than what is experienced with salmonellosis.

Rat bite fever is bacterial infection. Early symptoms of this disease are:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain

Treatment is accomplished through the use of antibiotics. If left untreated, a person can experience:

  • Infections involving the heart (endocarditis, myocarditis, or pericarditis)
  • Infections involving the brain (meningitis)
  • Infections involving the lungs (pneumonia)
  • Abscesses in internal organs
  • Death

Protect Yourself from Mouse Droppings

As noted at the start of this article, the odds of becoming severely ill from exposure to mouse droppings is remote. The odds of becoming somewhat ill are higher. With that understood, there still exists a possibility of being infected from contact with mouse droppings by a disease that can be fatal. Thus, if you are going to have contact with mouse droppings, you need to protect yourself properly. (This includes contact with mouse droppings that occurs during the cleanup process.)

If you will be cleaning up mouse droppings on your own, you need to obtain personal protective equipment that includes:

  • Respirator
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Smock
  • Shoe covering

The respirator is a key component. When sweeping up mouse droppings, the possibility exists that the feces can crumble, creating airborne dust. This dust potentially can contain a pathogen like hantavirus. If you breath that in, you can become infected with the virus.

In the final analysis, you best protect yourself from exposure to potential pathogens in mouse droppings by engaging the services of a mouse droppings cleanup specialist, a professional with experience in biohazard remediation.