Forget a better mousetrap. New York may need a better antibiotic.
Common house mice in the city carry bacteria that could be responsible for potentially life-threatening diseases in people – and researchers at Columbia University say some of these bacteria could also be resistant to antibiotics.
The researchers’ new findings appear in the journal mBio and were also detailed on Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health website.
Intrepid researchers brought in more than 400 mice from New York City residential buildings and found several bacteria living in their droppings. The researchers “found no known human pathogens.”
But the genetic sequences of the viruses matched some viruses that do infect other mammals, raising the prospect that some of the viruses would be able to cross over to others species, possibly including humans.
And they found found evidence of genes that could make the microbes resistant to common antibiotics.
“From tiny studios to penthouse suites, New York City apartments are continually invaded by house mice,” lead author Simon H. Williams, said on the Mailman School site. “Our study raises the possibility that serious infections—including those resistant to antibiotics—may be passed from these mice to humans, although further research is needed to understand how often this happens, if at all.”