Can Pet Mice Make You Sick?

mouse, glass, animal, pet, fun, macro, tiny, rat image by lena Letuchaia from Fotolia.com

Mr. Cheddar is your best pal, but the disease-causing bugs he could be home to aren't. While rare, mice can be carriers of viruses and bacteria that could make you sick. To be safe, make sure to always give your hands a good scrub after handling your little guy.

Salmonella

You probably knew that raw chicken or eggs could harbor salmonella, but so can your pet mouse. Salmonellae are bacteria that cause intestinal upset and diarrhea in humans. If your mouse is infected, the germ will spread in his poop. He may not show any symptoms. Avoid adopting mice that have diarrhea or that live in cages with sick mice. To avoid getting salmonella from your mouse, always wash your hands after handling your mouse, especially if you were cleaning his cage. You may be tempting give your little pal some smooches or nose rubs, but settle for snuggles.

LCMV

LCMV stands for lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, which can spread from your mouse pal to you. Symptoms might make you think you have the flu; they include fever, neck stiffness, decreased appetite, achy muscles, headache and vomiting. While not everyone who is exposed gets sick, symptoms crop up about a week or two after you're exposed. You can LCMV from handling dirty mouse bedding or from a bite if your mouse is infected. Keeping his cage sparkling and washing your hands after handling him will reduce the chances of your getting sick. If you're pregnant, avoid holding your mouse and have someone else in the family clean his cage.

Leptospirosis

A bacteria in an infected mouse's pee causes a disease called Leptospirosis. If it gets into surrounding water, it can survive for months. If infected, the bacteria can be in the urine for a few months to several years. In humans, it can cause a fever, headache, achy muscles, yellow skin and eyes, red eyes, rash, stomach pain and diarrhea. It can be asymptomatic, too, meaning you won't show any symptoms at all. It has two stages: First you become ill with flulike symptoms but appear to get better. The second stage, which doesn't always occur, is called Weil's disease. It is far more dangerous, leading to kidney and liver failure or meningitis. Leptospirosis can last for a few days or for several months if left untreated.

Rat Bite Fever

Usually associated with the bite from a rat, your mouse pal could carry the disease called rat bite fever. Usually it takes a bite from an infected mouse to become infected, but you can contract rat bite fever simply by handling him. It may take up to three weeks after being bitten before you get sick. It starts with a fever; a rash can appear on your hands and feet after a couple of days. It can be treated with antibiotics but could be very scary if left untreated. If the infection spreads to your heart, brain or lungs, it could be deadly. Thankfully, these serious complications are rare.

Photo Credits

  • mouse, glass, animal, pet, fun, macro, tiny, rat image by lena Letuchaia from Fotolia.com