Can Mouse Droppings Make You Sick?

Mouse droppings are extremely unsanitary. Like all other unsanitary things, they can have a negative effect on your health. But can mouse droppings actually make you sick?

The obvious answer is yes. Mice often carry different diseases and bacteria. While the mouse is not usually harmed, their feces carry the disease further and can transmit it to unwitting people and other animals.

Admittedly, the chances of getting sick from mouse droppings on any given day are not that high, but contact with mouse droppings raises these chances considerably and the viruses, bacteria, and diseases can be life-threatening.

So why risk it? It is better to learn about the dangers of mouse droppings so that you can keep them in mind the next time you encounter mouse poop.

The dangers of mouse poop

The diseases that mouse droppings carry can be spread either through the contamination of food and water or simply from inhaling infected air.

Two major diseases that can originate from mouse droppings are hantavirus and salmonellosis. There are several others, including hemorrhagic fever and lymphocytic choriomeningitis, that can be transmitted directly by mice and their droppings.

Hantavirus

Hantavirus, while rare, can be deadly.

It is usually contracted through inhalation of the virus when it is airborne. It affects many systems at once, including the respiratory system.

If you contract hantavirus, breathing will become difficult since this virus causes fluid to enter the lungs. Sufferers may require hospitalization and treatment with oxygen and a ventilator.

Symptoms of hantavirus include:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

These are the primary symptoms. If you think you have been exposed to mouse droppings and have any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor.

The tricky part of hantavirus is that after experiencing the symptoms mentioned above, you will feel slightly better. Yet, a few days later, your breathing will suddenly become difficult, resulting in the next batch of symptoms that include feeling short of breath, a dry cough, and short, raspy breaths.

If you experience any of the second stage symptoms, immediately seek medical attention. These late symptoms progress very quickly, potentially leading to death.

Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis, a.k.a. salmonella poisoning is transmitted by the Salmonella bacteria.

This disease is spread through contaminated food and water. Instances of food poisoning are typically caused by Salmonella. And as disgusting as it is, it is more common than you think, especially in rodent-infested houses, and can cause serious health issues.

The symptoms of salmonellosis include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever

Luckily, it is rarely fatal. But it is not a risk worth taking.

Allergies and asthma

In addition to hantavirus and salmonellosis, children that are exposed to mice droppings for long periods of time can develop allergies and/or asthma. So, make sure that the cause of your child’s sickness is not hiding inside of your walls.

Cleaning up mouse droppings

If you find mouse droppings, they need to be cleaned up immediately. It is not only nasty, but its existence also means that there are rodents in your home. On top of the diseases which their droppings can carry, the rodents themselves carry diseases of their own and can carry in ticks and mites that spread other illnesses.

Cleaning is a definite must.

First, you should never directly touch the droppings or the animals themselves. But if you do accidentally touch a rodent dropping, wash your hands immediately and thoroughly.

In addition to the potential for contracting disease, if you have allergies, you could develop an itchy rash.

Cleaning up after mice is a time-consuming task. The first thing that you should do is to air out the area that the mice have been in. Whether it is your basement, attic or a dark cupboard, you must air it out for a minimum of 30 minutes so that any bacteria that is in the air can be expelled from the space as well. You should wear a face mask as a precaution anyway, even after airing out the room.

Once the area has been aired out, it is time for the actual cleaning of the area. It is better to spray the area with either a disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water (one part bleach to ten parts water). Let it soak for a minimum of five minutes so the solution really has a chance to seep into the infected spots and disinfect them.

Then, while wearing gloves (rubber, latex, or vinyl), pick up the feces by hand. If you do not want to touch the droppings even while wearing gloves, you can also use a paper towel to pick up all of the droppings. Just remember to still wear heavy-duty gloves and a face mask while doing this.

Next, place the droppings directly into a bag that can be sealed and thrown out immediately.

Warning!

Vacuuming and sweeping are off-limits. This can cause more dust to rise into the air, increasing the chances of you breathing in contaminated particles and getting sick.

Finally, clean the entire area with disinfectant or bleach and water solution. Throw any bedding or other linens that may have contacted feces or urine into the wash on hot.

Finally, take off and dispose of your gloves and face mask and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. It wouldn’t hurt to wash the clothes you wore as well. This may seem like a drawn-out process, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

Additionally, you should also:

  • Seal up all holes and potential passages that the rodents might be using to get indoors.
  • Pick up any clutter and debris both outside and inside your home since mice often use it as a hideout.
  • And keep your food tightly sealed in glass or plastic containers rather than cardboard boxes that rodents can chew through.

This will help you lessen the chance of a recurring mice infestation and of you ever encountering mouse droppings again.

There is no doubt that mouse droppings are a red flag that should be taken very seriously since mice cannot only make your home dirty but can also make you sick. So if you find mouse droppings in your house, clean them up immediately and take measures to rid your home of mice once and for all.

39 Comments

OCTAVIA TRAVIS

This information on pest control is very useful for a healthier
life stle in general and
we should always apply
where needed and for
those givev this great
information THANK YOU!!

    Vicki

    Yesterday I was cleaning our stove and no thinking I grabbed a mouse nest and was cleaning the urine up it was all covered in dropping to took 3 hours of cleaning the stove breathing it all in now today been aching headache for about 5 hours non stop throwing up it’s green and a horrible taste in mouth

    InsectCop

    I suggest you go see a doctor as soon as possible!

Kay McNabb

My things were in storage and after moving all the cardboard boxes contained droppings and urine, some just a little, others heavily damaged. I threw out lots of clothes, towels, etc. I haven’t felt well and wondered if semi nausea could be caused by the abundance of droppings. Also unreplaceable pictures have been eaten into. Do I need to get rid of those pictures? My storage locker was inside and climate controlled and there was absolutely no food products of any kind that would attract the mice. Do I have a claim against the locker company?

    InsectCop

    You should check your contracts for any mention about damage happening to your property. Still, it might be hard to prove it was their fault. As for the pictures, I think they should be safe to keep.

Rekha Reddy

Please help me get rid of mice in my room

    InsectCop

    You can read this article, you’ll find some great tips there.

Natalie Bracher

I am really worried. I have accidentally touched mice droppings. I picked them up thinking it was fluff. Will I be ok?

    InsectCop

    You can always consult a medical professional just to be sure. If you’d rather not do that unless absolutely necessary, you can simply pay more attention to how you feel, keeping in mind that fever, aching muscles, etc can be a symptom of Hantavirus. In this case, you should absolutely see a doctor. Still, even if there are no symptoms like I mentioned before, it wouldn’t hurt to talk to a doctor either way.

    Anandita

    I was sleeping with a house rat unknowingly. I woke you when it was near my face. I belive the rat n I was the same bed for 24 hours atleast. I am not sure, If I am affected.
    Very scared.

    InsectCop

    If you have any doubts about the status of your health, don’t hesitate to visit a doctor as soon as possible!

Kris

Hi,

I made scrambled eggs in a pan that I store in the drawer under the stove. While I was eating the eggs I noticed that the pepper that I had put in the eggs was rather unusually large, and was not hard. After investigating further, I noticed quite a bit of mice droppings in the bottom of that drawer. Yep, I ate mice shit! I don’t feel sick, but I want to throw-up! Is this advised?

Secondly, what is the best way to eliminate the mice, besides a trap? I hate any type of trap as I don’t really care to see them or dispose of them.

    InsectCop

    When it comes to accidentally consuming mice droppings you should contact your doctor immediately as to what you should. As for eliminating mice, we have a handy article on getting rid of mice that you should check out since it highlights the best methods on eliminating a mice infestation besides just setting up mice traps.

    Lisa Marie

    I noticed we had mice droppings in our utility room in our basement. I was down there a few months ago and it was clear. Not sure how long the droppings were there but my husband to me to shop vac them and now I think I have the hantavirus.
    I didn’t know.
    He vacuumed some of them first and a few weeks I started cleaning the room again be cause he only cleaned one shelf.
    It’s been over a month for his exposure and only a week for mine. I wore gloves but I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to vacuum them! I’m going to die because of my husbands negligence!! How long can the virus live on the droppings? Maybe I’m just paranoid? Do all mice have the hantavirus??
    Help!

    InsectCop

    If you think you have the virus then you should go see a doctor. Are there any reasons you think you might be sick, or do you simply assume, due to having been exposed to the droppings?
    Not all mice actually have the virus. As for the lifespan of Hantavirus, it depends on the environment where the droppings are. For example, it will only live for a few hours if they’re left in direct sunlight, while indoors it’ll generally live for less than a week. It’s not always easy to say how old the droppings are, though.
    If you’re not feeling well, you should contact a doctor.

Tatiana

Hi, I live in an old building and have had mice for years. We’ve had several pest control people come in to try and fix the problem but unfortunately they were still getting through due to the way the building has been built. The people in the apartment below me had their kitchen completely refurbished last year and told us they had all gaps etc filled where mice were making their way up into our apartment, and since then we haven’t had any problems. However, I was vacuuming today and discovered a couple of mouse droppings behind my fridge (which I can’t reach unless I move the fridge, which I can’t do). My partner thinks they have been there since before our neighbors had their kitchen done and therefore they are over a year old (or more). I was just wondering if this poses any health risk to us at the moment if we are not going anywhere near them? Because I don’t think I’ll be able to clean up behind the fridge until we move in the new year. As I said before we have had mice for years and had no idea we had a problem for quite a while, and we were completely fine. No health issues whatsoever. But due to lack of space in our apartment we have to keep the vacuum cleaner and it’s extra parts in a small space which is next to the fridge, and I’m worried it may be contaminated as it is very close to where the droppings are. Probably just paranoia but I wanted to ask anyway.
Thanks so much

    InsectCop

    Hello! Sorry for the delayed response. Since it’s already the new year, I assume you have moved, therefore, the droppings behind the fridge are no longer an issue? Because those would need cleaning up at some point!
    As for the vacuum cleaner, it will probably be fine. However, I would strongly advise you to clean and disinfect it either way, for safety measures.

Karen

I saved some vintage canning glasses/ jars, some in their original boxes, while cleaning out my parents neglected basement. There was a mouse problem which has been resolved yet there were still random mouse droppings in boxes and on shelves that were not cleaned after the infestation. The boxes/ glasses that I salvaged showed no direct contamination (chewing or droppings) but they were in the mix down there. I feel that I can sanitize the glass but is there anyway to effectively clean and sanitize the cardboard boxes that may have been contaminated?

    InsectCop

    It would probably be a good idea to just throw any possibly contaminated boxes away. Technically, you can try keeping them in direct sunlight, cleaning them with Lysol spray or Clorox wipes. Still, just to stay safe, you should get rid of them, and get some clean boxes or containers instead.

    Tatiana

    Hi, thank you for your response. We haven’t moved yet and as it turns out, it doesn’t look as if it will be happening for at least another year. I’m 18, still in school and I live with my mother who does not care about the mice droppings, because the neighbours below us had their kitchen renovated a couple of years ago and had it mouse proofed, and since then we haven’t had any mice coming into our apartment because they are unable to get into our apartment now. My mother seems to think that because the droppings are so old that they will not be harmful, which I hope is true because it has been more than 3 years. We can’t clean behind the fridge because it cannot physically be reached, due to the way the kitchen is designed. My mother refuses to do anything about it because it is unreachable and she will not hire someone to clean it for us, as that would likely be expensive. I have discovered since my original post that there are also some droppings behind the washing machine which is next to the fridge. Again, reaching this to clean would require someone having to be hired to unhook the machine from the water pipes etc. it is connected to and pull it forwards which my mother is not going to do, unfortunately. If we are not going anywhere near the droppings are we ok? We will not be moving either appliance and will be leaving them behind when we move, but in the mean time I am still worried about any health effects. Like I said before we have lived in this apartment for 12 years now and have had mice (unknowingly) for the entire time, only discovering them about 7 years ago. There haven’t been any health issues whatsoever and the last time we had a new fridge installed (3 years ago) my mother cleaned the area behind the fridge with disinfectant but no mask or gloves or anything, and was completely fine. I apologise for such a long post! But I am just very worried that we could still get sick for example, if the washing machine breaks down and needs to be replaced, and the dust and droppings will be disturbed. How likely is it that you can become ill from very old droppings? And what do you suggest we can do about this because I am afraid that if we try to clean the droppings ourselves at some point it will make us sick (I have read a lot of horror stories about people becoming ill from cleaning mouse droppings!) Again, this is probably mostly paranoia, but I find it very strange that my mother is so calm about it. She keeps reminding me that most people have mice in this country (we live in the UK) have mice in their homes and they’re fine. Any advice or information to help me stop freaking out would be greatly appreciated!
    Thank you so much!

    InsectCop

    you don’t come into contact with them. That being said, the fact that it’s unlikely doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
    Still, being at least 3 years old, I doubt they will be infectious. I have no information on how long each virus will live, however, I have heard that Hantavirus, for example, will live for several days. Not sure any of the diseases will last for as long as 3 years.
    Also, even though you don’t necessarily have to come into direct contact with droppings to get sick (you can also breathe in the contaminated air), keep in mind that not all mice have these diseases. I also think that, even if the virus did survive for such a long time, you probably would have gotten sick at some point already. Since you’ve been fine all along, you’re likely to be safe.
    If you do get a chance to clean them up at some point, avoid coming into direct physical contact with them. If you do, make sure to wash your hands as soon as you can! However, we’d suggest wearing protective gloves when dealing with them, as well as a face mask. Even though I think the droppings will no longer pose any danger, I can not say it for sure, therefore, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Good luck!

Kim

I have been sick for some time now I have had a sore throat which has been so sore that its hard to swallow. I am extremely tired all the time. I have been to the doctor and they can not figure out why have run strep 2 times and it comes ack negative. I have had the flu not to long ago they tested for that it come back negative. but I have found droppings and yellow pee spots all over my towels and clothes. could this be why am sick.

    InsectCop

    Not being medical professionals, we would prefer not to make such assumptions. But you should definitely tell your doctor about these findings and your suspicions as well.

Help

I moved into a new home and there were mice droppings (hundreds) under the dishwasher. The man installing the new dishwasher asked me to clean it out because it was “dusty” …Having never seen that kind of thing before I used a broom and swept it out, probably inhaling it all for 10 minutes. I only LATER realized it was mice droppings. I am extremely worried I will get hantavirus as well as now, coronavirus… what are the chances I am infected?

    InsectCop

    If the droppings were old, you’ll most likely be okay, since the virus would no longer be alive and active. Still, be sure to follow how you’re feeling, to make sure you won’t miss any symptoms if any do develop. If you’re still feeling uneasy about it, you can consult your doctor, just to make sure.

Tee

Just cleaned up a lot of old mouse droppings. I’ve never heard of the hantavirus so I was unaware of the risks of sweeping and vacuuming droppings. Being that the droppings are old is the virus still viable?

    InsectCop

    Depending on how old exactly, it’s likely the virus is not a threat anymore. From what I’ve heard, Hantavirus will live for several days. Therefore, you should be fine, still, if you start developing symptoms, consult a doctor.

Joe

I was just eating out of a bag of Pirates Booty. As I got to the bottom of the bag, I noticed a black fleck on one of the pieces. I looked into the bag and was horrified to see mouse poop in it. I didn’t see any other signs of mice in my kitchen but found more droppings on a shelf in my basement. I’m kind of freaking out. Should I be worried?

    InsectCop

    It’s likely you’ll be fine. Still, if the mouse was infected, you might get sick. We suggest looking for any changes in your health and if any show up, then go see a doctor ASAP. If you’re really worried, you can also consult a doctor before any symptoms show up, tell them what happened, and what your fears are.

Elsa Karina

Helping a friend clean out her house and noticed mouse/rat droppings. We set 10 traps and have not caught any critters. I now have been reading comments and googling and worried sick I’m going to get sick from helping. Seems like these droppings have been in the house for years. Should I still be concerned? I don’t want to get sick

    InsectCop

    If the droppings are old, the viruses are long dead, if they ever were there, to begin with. Still, if you’re starting to feel sick, you should contact a doctor, in case there were some newer droppings. But you should be fine.

Worried

Hello! We have had a mouse problem in our basement off and on my whole life. It’s an old house and they come in the winter. We trap of course but it’s not perfect. We went to clean out some clutter in the basement and under it were a fair amount of mouse droppings. After throwing away the clutter we put on masks and gloves to clean up the poop. We swept it and now I’m so scared we kicked up the virus in the air. I mean we had masks on but I forgot to spray it down before cleaning! I have no idea if the droppings are old or new. Just found a mouse in a trap today too after not catching any for a few weeks. How long does the virus float in the air if you do kick it up? Is it going to travel through our ventilation system?

Thank you

    InsectCop

    The time of the virus being active depends. But generally, it should be safe after a week. It’s a good thing you were wearing masks, which gives you more safety. But we still suggest following your health and seeing a doctor if you start feeling unwell.

Sandra Di Marino

Just wondering if mice dropping could cause a person with COPD lots of problems. Ever since we found mouse droppings all over the house. I have been having serious breathing problems and was hospitalized for a week . Had professional traps put out but still find dropping on the kitchen counters, bathroom and utility room. Was out of work for 3 weeks. The 3rd week I was out was feeling great and was only doing 1 breathing treatment from 4. Went back to work and 1 week and sick again. Only have caught 4 mice. Starting to worry the house is causing me to be sick. Didn’t know you weren’t suppose to vacuum.

    InsectCop

    If you’re experiencing severe breathing issues, you need to ask your doctor for professional medical advice and examination. We are not qualified to offer such advice.

Worried mum

Hello, thanks for this board. I have a question for you. I was putting my daughter’s car seat in the car today and I found three mouse poops in the seat where I was putting it in. I sprayed them with bleach, removed them with a couple of doggie bags shortly thereafter, sprayed the area of the seat where I found the poop with additional bleach, washed my hands, and then put the car seat in. I checked the rest of the car for evidence of mice but didn’t find any. I’m concerned because I then immediately put the car seat in without really airing out the car much more, and took my daughter out in the car. I am worried I was too cavalier about it and now have jeopardized my daughter’s health. How at risk are we do you think?

    InsectCop

    You should always air out the treated area. Not only because of the droppings but chemical fumes as well. While it’s likely that your daughter will be fine, we still suggest watching her to see if there are any changes in her health.

WorriedHopefulMomToBe

I’m helping my elderly mom clean out her house. She has end tables in her living room with a top and bottom shelf, situated on both sides of her TV. They are covered in mice droppings, especially on the bottom shelves. I believe these are from at least this past winter (a couple of months ago) and probably a couple winters before that. Since my dad passed, she lives alone and can’t get around easily. So, she hasn’t kept up with the cleaning. I wore latex gloves and a single layered face mask (non-medical grade). I didn’t know that I should prep the area by spraying it in a bleach/water mix before cleaning, so I just wiped it into a plastic bag with Clorox Bleach wipes. When I got to a lower shelf with a larger amount of droppings, I wasn’t thinking, and used a duster to try to clear it off using a few swipes, since we’re ripping up the carpet anyways. The dusty didn’t clear much of it off, but it did release an odor into the air, so I stopped. Then, I scraped all of it into a plastic bag using a “ruler” type of flat stick, and wiped the cleared surfaced with the Clorox Bleach wipe. I threw out the ruler, cleaning wipes, gloves and duster. I’m washing the face mask and my clothes. I’m worried I may have made the droppings airborne and inhaled it. When will symptoms develop for allergies, salmonella, hantavirus, or other possible illnesses? My husband and I are trying to conceive and I’m worried this may lower the chances of our conception, or may have put my health at serious risk.

    InsectCop

    We suggest consulting a doctor with these matters, as medical professionals are far better qualified to give the advice. However, as far as the viruses go, if the droppings are as old, the viruses should be dead by now.

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