City mice carry disease-causing bacteria with drug-resistant genes

House mice aren't just a nuisance but a potential source of infections, say researchers who trapped and tested more than 400 of the rodents from apartments across New York City.

City dwellers tend to fear rats more than mice because they're bigger and can be seen scurrying in subways or in alleys. The researchers previously studied how rats carry disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella and C. difficile.

But they were concerned mice might actually pose a greater health risk because they live with us in houses and apartments.

Dr. Scott Weese, an infectious disease specialist at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph who worked on the Vancouver study, said a bit of perspective is needed when evaluating the possible threat of mice spreading drug-resistant diseases. 

"Everything that moves" could be carrying such bacteria, he said, so it depends on the likelihood of exposure. For example, there's probably a much better chance you could be exposed to disease-causing microbes in your food or from touching a pet without washing your hands than from rodents. 

"If you say, 'OK cook your meat properly or get mice out of your house, which is going to be the best thing to protect you?' Well, cook your meat properly."

Read full story at CBC News