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Healthy Carolina: Rodents and disease

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Many families have mice and gerbils as pets, but other rodents that are outside and looking to come in your home, may carry diseases.

"This is the time of year when all of the nuisance wildlife decide to invade a home, flying squirrel, gray squirrel, red squirrel, the house mouse," said Chris Quinn, Catseye Pest Control Manager.

It's not the mice that scares homeowner Jen Graybeal, it is what they leave behind: feces, urine, and bacteria.

"They contaminate everything they come in contact with, so you can inhale something or touch something, or eat it," noted Graybeal.

They can bring in ticks, and also contaminate your food.

"Food-born illnesses that you can get, campylobacter and salmonella are two common diseases that people get from the house mouse, and the deer mouse in particular can carry hanta virus, the LCVM," explained Quinn.

A rodents nest contains bacteria-ladened feces and urine, both of which ultimately dry out and become dust. Moving a rodent's nest can stir those contaminated particles which can be inhaled, causing severe allergic reactions, or bacterial illnesses.

Quinn added, "You don't want to try that unless you have a good respirator to protect your lungs, and if you are vaccumming, have something to clean up the droppings with a hepa filter."

When looking for entry points into your home, make sure you do not overlook the small cracks and holes. A mouse can fit through an opening that is the size of a dime, and a rat can fit through an opening that is the size of a quarter.

"Where the foundation meets the sill plates of the home, garage doors are a great point of entry, anywhere in or around the chimney," said Quinn.

Prevention is key, and some suggest getting a cat for the job, but that doesn't always work. Be sure to eliminate any bait, and keep critters away by containing pet food and clearing out overgrown vegetation or trees near the house.

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