What are the Chances of Getting Sick from Mouse Droppings? (2024)

You’re more likely to get sick if you come in contact with fresh mouse droppings in a poorly ventilated space. The risk and type of infection may also depend on your location. Wherever you live, you can take steps to protect yourself.

Rodents such as rats, mice, prairie dogs, and chipmunks are shy animals who usually avoid direct contact with people. But even without frequent face-to-face contact, if you live near rodents, you’re at risk of developing the diseases that these animals are known to spread.

Mouse droppings can harbor bacteria and viruses that can cause various kinds of sicknesses in humans. Several of these illnesses may be serious or even deadly for some people. Mouse droppings are most likely to cause disease when found in high concentrations or areas without steady ventilation, such as attics or basem*nts.

If you see small, dark droppings about the size and shape of rice grains in your yard, home, vehicle, school, or place of work, there may be a mouse — or many — nearby. It’s important to carefully clean up mouse droppings if you find them near you.

It’s also critical to ensure you remove the mice from your home to best lower your risk of contact with potentially infected mouse droppings.

Read on to learn more about your chances of getting a bacterial or viral disease from mouse droppings, and find out how you can take steps to avoid getting sick.

Some types of human infections from mouse droppings are more common than others. Infection rates vary around the world. Salmonellosis is an example of a very common human infection that affects more than 90 million people worldwide each year and can be acquired from mouse droppings.

Across West Africa, Lassa fever affects between 100,000 and 300,000 people per year.

Other infections are rare but continue to affect people all over the world.

Rodents are found worldwide, and so are the diseases they carry. Infections often occur in rural areas where people have close contact with wildlife.

In the United States, rodent infections — especially hantaviruses — are most common in the Western states, where rodents tend to live in higher populations than in other areas. But these illnesses can occur across the country in any place rodents occupy.

With a single mouse producing 50 to 75 droppings per day, the presence of many mice can produce a large number of droppings. Mouse droppings often collect in areas near where people reside, as mice are attracted to the warmth of our vehicles and buildings and the food we cook, eat, and store.

Mouse and other rodent droppings can easily contaminate food, water, clothing, and bedding. Bacterial and viral diseases spread from mouse droppings when touched, inhaled, or accidentally ingested by a person.

How long can a virus survive in mouse droppings?

Viruses can remain infectious for varying amounts of time in different substances and on different surfaces. Many viruses can be infectious in mouse droppings for 2 to 3 days at room temperature. Time in the sun may shorten this period, but colder temperatures may lengthen it.

Bacteria such as Salmonella can remain alive for many more days or even weeks in mouse droppings.

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Illnesses commonly shed from mice in their droppings include:


Rodents carrying arenaviruses live across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. In many cases, arenaviruses can cause severe disease. Some can spread from person to person through contact with contaminated items or the bodily fluids of infected individuals.

One prominent illness that arenaviruses from mouse droppings cause is Lassa fever. Mice that live across several West African countries, including Sierra Leone and Nigeria, carry the virus that causes Lassa fever. You can catch Lassa fever from both rodent droppings and urine.

Lassa fever can cause severe damage to your body and has a high fatality rate. Symptoms occur over the course of days to weeks. Usually, it progresses from a fever with general weakness to including:

  • sore throat
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chest weakness
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • cough
  • abdominal pain

In more serious cases of Lassa fever — about 20% — people may experience bleeding gums, eyes, or nose.

Other arenaviruses from mouse droppings can cause other illnesses with similar symptoms, including:

  • Chapare hemorrhagic fever
  • Luju hemorrhagic fever
  • Argentine hemorrhagic fever


Rodents in Europe, Asia, and the Americas spread hantaviruses. These viruses can cause severe illnesses.

In Europe and Asia, hantaviruses can cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. This serious condition causes a range of symptoms, such as:

  • intense headaches
  • pain in the back and abdomen
  • fever
  • chills
  • nausea
  • blurred vision
  • flushed face
  • inflammation
  • redness in your eyes
  • rash

In severe cases, it can lead to acute shock, low blood pressure, vascular leakage, and acute kidney failure.

In the Americas, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a dangerous and sometimes deadly respiratory disease that you can get from mouse droppings. HPS can cause a range of symptoms that progressively worsen over time. Early signs of HPS include:

  • muscle aches
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • chills
  • abdominal issues (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and pain)

Later, people with HPS experience coughing and shortness of breath. About 38% of people with HPS die.

In the United States, the most dangerous type of HPS comes from deer mice that carry the Sin Nombre virus. Other sources in the United States include the cotton rat, rice rat, and white-footed mouse.


Salmonellosis is a type of bacterial infection caused by Salmonella bacteria. These bacteria can live in the intestines of many animals, including rodents. Most commonly, salmonellosis causes:

  • diarrhea
  • stomach cramps
  • abdominal pain
  • fever

Symptoms last for 5 to 7 days.

Some people with Salmonella infection show no symptoms. Mild cases of salmonellosis tend to resolve on their own. But severe cases can be fatal if you don’t receive timely treatment.

Omsk hemorrhagic fever

People who live in Western Siberia, Kazakhstan, and Russia are at risk of contracting Omsk hemorrhagic fever from rodents (and also tick bites). Symptoms of this viral infection mimic the flu and include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • nausea
  • muscle pain
  • cough

Bleeding, rash, skin sensitivity, and encephalitis may also develop in the later stages.

The fatality rate of Omsk hemorrhagic fever is low compared with some other similar rodent-borne diseases. Still, Omsk hemorrhagic fever can cause long-term body changes, including:

  • weakness
  • hearing loss
  • hair loss
  • neurological problems
  • mental health disorders

Rat-bite fever and Haverhill fever

Some rodents across North America and Asia may carry bacteria that cause rat-bite fever and Haverhill fever. You can also get rat-bite fever from the rodent’s urine or through bites or scratches.

Rat-bite fever can cause severe disease and organ system damage. Without timely treatment, it can be fatal in 10% of cases.

Symptoms usually appear within 3 to 10 days of contact with the bacteria. They include:

  • fever
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • rash (usually on your hands and feet)

If you feel off or show any signs of fever, unusual bleeding, or weakness, contact a doctor right away. It’s especially urgent to get medical help if you’ve had recent interactions with rodents and their droppings.

A doctor will perform a physical examination, take your medical history, and probably perform various tests. Blood, urine, and other tests can help them arrive at a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

The best way to avoid becoming ill from mouse droppings is to prevent mice and other rodents from entering your home, vehicle, or other space. You can do this by making sure these spaces are well-sealed.

At home, keep your food and garbage contained. Make sure any potential rodent entryways are sealed. Regularly check under the hood of your vehicle for signs of rodent infestations, since that’s a common entry point.

If you notice rodent droppings in your home or vehicle, it’s important to clean them up right away. Start by opening doors and windows to ventilate the space.

Contaminated air is most likely to cause disease. Before you grab a broom and sweep up or vacuum the droppings, there are additional steps you need to take to stay safe.

Follow these steps to keep safe while cleaning up rodent urine and droppings:

  1. Put on a pair of rubber or plastic gloves and a face mask.
  2. Open windows and doors and let the air out for 30 minutes.
  3. Spray the droppings with a bleach solution or disinfectant until the droppings appear very wet. Allow to soak and sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Use paper towels to wipe up the droppings and cleaning product.
  5. Throw the paper towels away in a plastic bag within your trash can, and make sure the trash is disposed of quickly.
  6. Mop or sponge the area where you found the droppings with a disinfectant product. Clean all nearby hard surfaces, such as floors, countertops, drawers, and cabinets. For rugs and upholstery, use a commercial disinfectant, ideally with a commercial-grade steam cleaner or shampoo.
  7. Wash contaminated bedding, clothing, or stuffed animals with hot water and detergent. Dry them in the sun or on high in the dryer.
  8. For any contaminated items you can’t clean with a liquid disinfectant (such as books or papers), place them outdoors in sunlight for several hours. You may also place them in an indoor area free of rodents for at least 3 weeks.
  9. Set out traps to catch any rodents that may be living in your space. You can reuse snap traps but take similar caution when handling dead rodents. Spray dead mice, rats, nesting materials, the trap, and the surrounding area with disinfectant before handling them with gloves. Dispose of them in a separate plastic bag in your trash.

Removing rodent droppings from within air ducts, walls, or other structural areas of your home is more complex. It’s also very challenging (and can be dangerous) to tackle a severe rodent infestation. For these jobs, it’s best to hire a professional who has the proper protective equipment.

Rodents such as mice often seek out our vehicles, buildings, yards, and other human spaces to stay warm, sheltered, and fed. Their proximity to humans puts us at risk of developing serious and potentially fatal illnesses.

If you find mouse droppings, it’s important to properly and carefully clean up. You can also prepare by guarding against future mouse visits or infestations.

If you suspect you’ve contracted a rodent-borne disease, call a doctor and schedule an appointment right away.

What are the Chances of Getting Sick from Mouse Droppings? (2024)


How common is it to get sick from mouse droppings? ›

Some types of human infections from mouse droppings are more common than others. Infection rates vary around the world. Salmonellosis is an example of a very common human infection that affects more than 90 million people worldwide each year and can be acquired from mouse droppings.

Can you get sick from being in a room with mouse droppings? ›

People get HPS when they breath in hantaviruses. This can happen when rodent urine and droppings that contain a hantavirus are stirred up into the air. People can also become infected when they touch mouse or rat urine, droppings, or nesting materials that contain the virus and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.

What are the odds of getting hantavirus? ›

The risk of acquiring hantavirus is extremely rare, even among people who are consistently exposed to mice and other rodents. The majority of exposures (70%) occur around the home. Hantavirus poses no significant health risk to WSU employees provided that simple precautions are followed.

How likely is mouse poop to have hantavirus? ›

Can I Get Hantavirus From Old Mouse Droppings? The short answer is yes. But, it is very unlikely. There are typically less than five cases of Hantavirus reported each year, making it highly unlikely that you will contract this disease.

How worried should I be about mouse poop? ›

Virus Risk: Why Sweeping & Vacuuming Rat & Mice Droppings Can Be Hazardous to Your Health. Rats and mice are dangerous from a public health standpoint because they can transmit disease through their waste. For that reason, properly removing rodent feces and urine is very important.

How long do mouse droppings remain infectious? ›

Although the length of time hantaviruses can remain alive and able to infect other people (infectious period) in the environment varies. The virus may remain infectious for 2 to 3 days at room temperature.

Can you get sick from cleaning up old mouse droppings? ›

Diseases are mainly spread to people from rodents when they breathe in contaminated air. CDC recommends you NOT vacuum (even vacuums with a HEPA filter) or sweep rodent urine, droppings, or nesting materials. These actions can cause tiny droplets containing viruses to get into the air.

What are the first signs of hantavirus? ›

In most recorded cases, symptoms develop 1 to 8 weeks after exposure. Early symptoms, such as fever, dry cough, body aches, headaches, diarrhea and abdominal pain, are similar to many other viral illnesses.

What happens if you leave mouse droppings? ›

Mouse droppings carry and can transmit several harmful diseases. Two of the most common illnesses are Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome and Salmonella. Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) – This disease is particularly dangerous because it not only spreads through direct contact with rodent feces but also through the air.

What percentage of house mice carry disease? ›

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis, or LCM, is a rodent-borne viral infectious disease caused by lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). The primary host of LCMV is the common house mouse. It is estimated that 5 percent of house mice throughout the United States carry LCMV and are able to transmit the virus.

How soon after exposure can you get hantavirus? ›

Due to the small number of HPS cases, the “incubation time” is not positively known. However, on the basis of limited information, it appears that symptoms may develop between 1 and 8 weeks after exposure to fresh urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents.

Can you fight off hantavirus? ›

There is no specific treatment or cure for hantavirus infection. Treatment of patients with HPS remains supportive in nature. Patients should receive appropriate, broad-spectrum antibiotic therapy while awaiting confirmation of a diagnosis of HPS.

Does everyone exposed to hantavirus get sick? ›

Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry hantavirus is at risk of HPS. Rodent infestation in and around the home remains the primary risk for hantavirus exposure. Even healthy individuals are at risk for HPS infection if exposed to the virus.

What states is hantavirus found? ›

Hantavirus Infection in the United States

Hantavirus disease surveillance in the United States began in 1993 during an outbreak of severe respiratory illness in the Four Corners region – the area where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet.

Does Lysol disinfect mouse droppings? ›

Does Lysol disinfect mouse droppings? Yes. By spraying the infected area with Lysol, you can disinfect mouse droppings and their nests.

Do old mouse droppings carry hantavirus? ›

Although a rare occurrence, old mouse droppings may still contain traces of virus hantavirus. However, you should still exercise caution when cleaning or handling an infestation area.

What happens if you don't clean up mouse droppings? ›

Hantavirus is a severe, potentially fatal, illness. Humans can be exposed to Hantavirus when the urine or feces of an infected rodent become airborne. This means that anyone who disturbs areas of mice or mice droppings, such as when cleaning, can be at risk.

What to do if you find mice poop? ›

Surfaces infested by mice should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Dampen the urine, droppings and nesting materials with a commercial disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) and let soak at least 5 minutes.

Should you wear a mask around mouse droppings? ›

For those who frequently handle or are frequently exposed to rodents in rural areas (such as mammalogists and pest control workers), CDC recommends wearing either a half-mask air-purifying (or negative-pressure) respirator or a powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) with N-100 filters.

How do you disinfect after mouse droppings? ›

Spray bleach/water formula onto rodent urine, droppings, and nest particles. Allow these areas to saturate; this will kill off hantaviruses. With paper towels, wipe the areas clean and dispose of the rodent remnants in plastic garbage bags.

Does one mouse leave a lot of droppings? ›

It is not uncommon for mice to leave more than 50 pellets per day around your home. In fact, a single mouse can leave behind 70 droppings a day. Some say this number can be as much as 150! That's a lot of poo, folks.

Why do I have mice in my house if I am clean? ›

There are two main things that can attract mice and rats to your house – food and shelter. If you don't tidy up properly and there's food waste on the floor or surfaces, rodents are going to love it! Rats and mice also need shelter, particularly during winter to avoid the worst of the cold.

Do you need to replace insulation after mice? ›

If mice have contaminated or damaged insulation, replacing the insulation is a must. Otherwise, debris and excrement may be left behind. Also, holes and gaps can create moisture, leading to mold and mildew. It can also leave a home or building vulnerable to temperature swings due to compromised insulation.

Why is hantavirus so rare? ›

And even though 15-20 percent of deer mice are infected with hantavirus, Cobb explains, it's a rare disease for humans to contract, mostly because the virus dies shortly after contact with sunlight, and it can't spread from one person to another.

Can you get a mild case of hantavirus? ›

Hantavirus infection can have no symptoms or cause mild to severe illness. Fever is the most common symptom in all three types of disease and lasts about 3-7 days. Other symptoms differ between the three types of disease.

Can I get tested for hantavirus? ›

Immunohistochemistry (IHC) IHC testing of formalin-fixed tissues with specific monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies can be used to detect hantavirus antigens and has proven to be a sensitive method for laboratory confirmation of hantaviral infections.

Who is at high risk for hantavirus? ›

The majority of Hantavirus infections occur in males and in individuals between the ages of 20-40 4. Trappers, hunters, forestry workers, farmers, and military personnel have a higher risk of contracting the disease 2 4.

How many droppings does 1 mouse leave? ›

According to the National Pest Management Association, a mouse produces between 40 to 100 droppings per day, while a rat produces between 20 to 50 droppings. Mouse droppings are best described as small, pellet-shaped and dark brown in color with pointed ends. Mice droppings are typically small, about ¼-inch in length.

What is the #1 disease spread by mice? ›

Hantavirus is spread from wild rodents, particularly mice and rats, to people. The virus, which is found in rodent urine, saliva, and feces (poop), can be easily released in the air in confined spaces when disturbed by rodents or human activities, such as sweeping or vacuuming.

What smell keeps mice away? ›

As it turns out, there are several smells that these pests cannot stand, which means you can use them to your advantage. But what exactly do mice and rats hate to smell? Mice can be kept away by using the smells of peppermint oil, cinnamon, vinegar, citronella, ammonia, bleach, and mothballs.

How many mice are in my house if I see one? ›

If you see an actual mouse in your home, there are very likely many many more where it came from. This is especially true if it is during the daytime and/or in an open area like the middle of the floor. When populations grow large within a single community of mice, it forces some members out of the burrow at odd times.

Where is hantavirus most common? ›

HPS is more common in South America than in North America. Cases have been identified in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, and Bolivia. Andes virus causes HPS in Argentina and Chile and is the only hantavirus known to have been transmitted from person to person.

What is the mortality rate of the hantavirus? ›

HPS can be fatal and has a mortality rate of 38%, according to the CDC. Hantavirus primarily spreads through contact with infected rodents or their droppings, urine, or saliva.

Is hantavirus common in house mice? ›

House mice do not carry hantavirus. Other wild mice, like deer mice, can vector hantavirus, but are most often found in rural areas, the desert, and mountains and rarely invade inhabited human homes.

Does N95 protect against hantavirus? ›

During clean-up, wear an appropriate, well-fitting filter mask, rubber gloves and goggles. These masks include NIOSH-approved 100 series filters, such as N100, P100, and R100 (formerly called HEPA filters), or a respirator with P100 cartridges. An N95 mask may also be used.

What happens if a human gets hantavirus? ›

Hantaviruses infect people when they are inhaled. If the virus reaches your lungs, it can infect the cells that line the tiny blood vessels in the lungs, causing them to become “leaky.” The leaky blood vessels allow fluid to fill the lungs making it difficult to breathe.

Do I need to worry about hantavirus? ›

The signs and symptoms of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome can worsen suddenly and may quickly become life-threatening. If you have flu-like symptoms that progressively worsen over a few days, see your health care provider. Get immediate medical care if you have trouble breathing.

How common is hantavirus in humans? ›

Every year, there are approximately 300 cases reported in the Americas. Hantavirus infections can be fatal. Fatality rates may reach up to 60%. There is no available treatment.

Is hantavirus common in the United States? ›

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a severe respiratory disease caused by hantavirus. The virus is spread to humans through contact (via inhalation or ingestion) with rodent droppings, urine, or saliva. Only 20 to 40 cases of HPS occur in the United States each year, but the syndrome can be fatal.

Does Irish Spring soap really keep mice away? ›

Irish Spring Soap has a strong fragrance that helps to repel mice. Their sharp sense of smell finds this fragrance to be too strong. Many testers say that putting soap shavings strategically keeps their home mice free.

Does Dawn disinfect mouse droppings? ›

It's always recommended to first clean up rodent waste with an enzymatic cleaner. Many products specifically created to clean up pet messes will work just fine. Dawn dish soap is a good pre-bleach cleaner as well.

Do dryer sheets repel mice? ›

Another strong smell that will discourage mice from your home is dryer sheets. Place fresh ones around mouse hangout points, or stuff them into entry holes. Same thing here, though: make sure to remove them once the smell wears off. Nothing looks nicer for a nest than an unscented dryer sheet.

Can you survive hantavirus? ›

Are there any complications? Previous observations of patients that develop HPS from New World Hantaviruses recover completely. No chronic infection has been detected in humans. Some patients have experienced longer than expected recovery times, but the virus has not been shown to leave lasting effects on the patient.

What to do after finding mouse droppings? ›

Once you notice an infestation, follow these simple guidelines to get rid of mouse poop safely:
  1. Ventilate the area. ...
  2. Don't touch mouse droppings with your bare hands. ...
  3. Spray contaminated surfaces with a bleach-based or household disinfectant. ...
  4. Don't stir things up. ...
  5. Mop and wash up. ...
  6. Safely dispose of the nest.

What to do if you find mouse droppings in kitchen? ›

Vacuum any droppings. Disinfect any areas that they have contaminated, and dispose of any affected food. The most effective way to get rid of mice is to enlist the help of a professional exterminator.

How common is hantavirus in the US? ›

In the past 20 years of surveillance for hantavirus in humans in the United States, 624 cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) have been reported, 96% of which occurred in states west of the Mississippi River.

How many house mice carry hantavirus? ›

House mice do not carry hantavirus. Other wild mice, like deer mice, can vector hantavirus, but are most often found in rural areas, the desert, and mountains and rarely invade inhabited human homes.

What to do if you think you were exposed to hantavirus? ›

You might first see your family doctor. However, when you call to set up an appointment, your doctor may recommend urgent medical care. If you're having difficulty breathing or know you have been exposed to rodents, seek emergency medical attention.

How long does it take to know you have hantavirus? ›

Due to the small number of HPS cases, the “incubation time” is not positively known. However, on the basis of limited information, it appears that symptoms may develop between 1 and 8 weeks after exposure to fresh urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents.


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