Study Finds NYC Mice Carry More Disease Than Their Rat Cousins

April 18, 2018 - 12:38 pm

By Joe Cingrana

Your fears are not unfounded, New Yorkers.

A new study released by Columbia University scientists and published in the journal mBio says the tiny cousins of New York City's giant rats are actually carrying potentially harmful, drug-resistant bacteria inside of them.

More than 400 mice were collected from seven sites in the city spread over four of the five boroughs (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx) and after a year found the common house mouse carries several disease-causing bacteria including C. difficile, E. coli, Shigella, and Salmonella.

"From tiny studios to penthouse suites, New York City apartments are continually invaded by house mice," lead author Simon H. Williams at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University, said in a statement. "Our study raises the possibility that serious infections—including those resistant to antibiotics—may be passed from these mice to humans, although further research is needed to understand how often this happens, if at all."

36 separate viruses, including six new ones, were also found to exist in mouse droppings according to a second study published in mBio.

"New Yorkers tend to focus on rats because they are larger and we see them scurrying around in streets or subways," said senior author Dr. W. Ian Lipkin. "However, from a public health vantage point, mice are more worrisome because they live indoors and are more likely to contaminate our environment, even if we don't see them."

And just to add a little more of an element of fear... larger, heavier mice tend to carry more of the viruses.

Sleep well, NYC.