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Eek! There's a superbug mouse in the house…

18 Avril 2018

According to the Wall Street Journal, the bacteria showed resistance to three common antibiotics. "If food is contaminated, if surfaces are contaminated they should be cleaned with the appropriate products, and the food discarded".

New York City house mice, the kind probably nibbling away in the pantry, are leaving behind more than an unwelcome mess.

"It tells us that there is the potential, at least, for these mice to be carriers of bacteria responsible for outbreaks of human disease", says Lipkin. Some of the germs that were found include E.coli, salmonella, Klebsiella pneumonia, and Shigella.

Regular cases of the infection increased significantly over the past five years and a recent report found cases of gonorrhea resistant to one of the two drugs had tripled in six months.

A second paper concerned the viral load of the mouse droppings.

It would be almost impossible to conduct research directly linking a mouse pathogen with a human disease, said Charles Calisher, a professor emeritus at Colorado State University, who was not involved in the new studies.

New Yorkers tend to be too focused on rats, said Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, a senior author of the study and a professor of epidemiology at the school of public health, because they're larger and more likely to be seen scurrying in the subway or alley.

"We can use computers to do a lot of the work for us, as a discovery tool of new antimicrobial peptide sequences", says Cesar de la Fuente-Nunez, an MIT postdoc and Areces Foundation Fellow. In 2017, one person in the Bronx died and two others were sickened by leptospirosis, a disease that spreads through contact with rodent urine. "I would suspect that if you looked in Washington, D.C., or Boston or Toronto, you'd have similar findings". "It's a nice combined approach".

In E.B. White's classic children's story Stuart Little, the eponymous mouse lives happily with a New York City family. "Luckily, this is a species we're already trying to control". In all, they found 36 viruses but none that could cause human disease. "So there is some overlap there".

"If you say, 'OK cook your meat properly or get mice out of your house, which is going to be the best thing to protect you?' Well, cook your meat properly".

In this study, the researchers began with an antimicrobial peptide found in the seeds of the guava plant.

The microbiome of wild Mus musculus (house mouse), a globally distributed invasive pest that resides in close contact with humans in urban centers, is largely unexplored. "We know animals, including pets, food animals and wildlife, can carry a wide range of resistant bacteria".

This could make the animals a potential factory for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Together, the findings show that mice may be an untapped reservoir of potentially risky infections, and suggest that mouse populations should be studied when outbreaks of such infections occur - just as mosquitoes are investigated when cases of West Nile or Zika start to surge.

Eek! There's a superbug mouse in the house…