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Mice in NYC carry bacteria like E. coli, salmonella that may be resistant to antibiotics, new study says

Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health tested 416 mice from residential buildings in all five boroughs.

More than 400 mice from all five boroughs

More than 400 mice from all five boroughs were studied by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health to determine what bacteria city rodents are carrying. Photo Credit: Getty Images / iStockphoto / Larineb

If you thought New York City rats were tough, check out our mice.

A new study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health found that some house mice that live in the city carry bacteria that may be resistant to antibiotics.

And that bacteria could cause “mild to life-threatening” gastroenteritis in humans.

The study, published Tuesday, involved 416 mice collected from residential buildings at seven locations in the five boroughs. Researchers analyzed mice droppings which revealed they carried bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella.

“New Yorkers tend to focus on rats because they are larger and we see them scurrying around in streets or subways,” said W. Ian Lipkin, one of the authors of the report and director of the school’s Center for Infection and Immunity. “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.”

Researchers emphasized that more study is needed before they could definitively say that serious and antibiotic-resistant infections could be passed from mice to people.

A related report showed mice from the neighborhood of Chelsea were found to be heavier and carried more viruses. Scientists also studied droppings from the mice and found they contained 36 viruses — but none that infect humans.


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