Between 1,500 and 2,000 rodent species have been documented worldwide, which makes rodents the largest order of mammals. The most common rodent pest, the house mouse, is small enough to invade homes through tiny entry points on the exterior walls of houses. Mice are primarily motivated to invade homes to secure food, and to a lesser extent, to secure warm shelter that offers protection from outside predators. Mice cause a significant amount of structural and property damage within homes, and they pose a health threat to humans within the homes that they infest.
The house mouse is one of several rodents that can spread numerous diseases to humans, including hantavirus, which is spread through their feces, and possibly, their urine and saliva as well. The Norway rat, which is the most common indoor rat pest in every US state, can also spread a variety of diseases to humans, such as Lassa fever. While it is well known that rodents spread disease, many people are unaware that rodents also spread allergens within homes. These allergens can lead to serious allergic conditions, such as rhinitis, asthma, and other respiratory diseases.
The allergen known as Mus m 1 has been detected in the urine, feces and hair of house mice, while the allergen known as Rat n 1 has been detected in the urine of Norway rats. Each of these allergens have a nearly identical effect on the human body, and they are known to cross-react. Mouse and rat allergens are present in dust, which makes the inhalation of these allergens impossible to avoid within homes that have been, or are currently infested with rats and/or mice. Sanitizing homes following infestations usually does not eliminate mouse and rat allergens from homes, as mice and rats mainly inhabit inaccessible indoor areas that cannot be readily sanitized. These inaccessible areas include wall voids, beneath floorboards and tight attic spaces. Continued exposure to mouse and rat allergens progressively increases sensitivity to these allergens, resulting in asthma and other allergic conditions. If exposure continues past the development of asthma, serious respiratory diseases will result.
Have you ever experienced allergy symptoms while struggling to control a mouse or rat infestation?