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Friday, April 20, 2018

City vs County: Which mice spread life-threatening human illnesses?


You never know where or when inspiration will strike. Today it happened to strike following a very large cup of regular coffee and finding the topic for this week’s blog. It’s possible that since I generally only drink decaf, that the inspiration was more of a caffeine buzz. Either way, I was excited!

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I grew up on a farm. In fact, I am proud to say that both sides of my families come from farming backgrounds. My grandfather was a world renowned livestock auctioneer. I grew up playing in barns, often getting up to no good. I made pets of any farm animal we had and certainly spent my fair share of time finding ways to catch or trap “pests” aka mice, raccoons etc. As a country girl, you learn to deal with all sorts of animals, amphibians, reptiles and insects. You don’t have to like them and may try to avoid them, but I can say with complete honesty that I did not grow up with a fear of any of them.

One would think this would be true of all country kids. Nope. My mother is deathly afraid of snakes.  There are a couple of pranks we have pulled on her that without a doubt would have gone viral. I also had an uncle who hated mice. I cannot confirm if he simply HATED them or if in fact he was afraid of them. Regardless, there is one incident of him hitting a mouse with a gavel (he too was a well-known auctioneer) when a mouse popped out from under his socks in his dresser.

You may wonder why I bring up mice. It goes back to my inspiration for this week’s blog. A study that was published in mBio that looked at house mice and their ability to carry human illnesses. We know that when spring cleaning we need to be cautious about cleaning mouse droppings because of Hantavirus, but now we need to be concerned about more than just Hantavirus. The researchers collected 416 mice over a year and analyzed the droppings of the captured mice.  They we able to identify 149 distinct species of bacteria including those most commonly linked to intestinal upset; C. difficle, E. coli, Shigella and Salmonella.  The researchers also looked at the viral load of the mouse poop and found 36 separate viruses. None of the viruses found were known to infect humans, but were known to infect dogs, chickens and pigs suggesting that there may be some cross over.

I guess it’s true when we say mice are dirty.  Based on this study, researchers are recommending that if you find mouse droppings around your food that you throw it out, unless perhaps you can properly disinfect the packaging (if it’s of a non-porous substrate, like tin cans).

Of interest, the study was conducted in the city, NYC to be exact. Being a country bumpkin, I wonder if country mice would show the same results. I’m going to believe they wouldn’t. While it may not be a proven fact, country kids have better immune systems because we play in the dirt (and manure) from a pretty young age!


Bugging Off!

Nicole




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