Exposure to rodents (mice and rats) has been linked to increased asthma symptoms among laboratory workers who handle rodents and are sensitized to them. Other studies have established links between rodent allergies and asthmatic symptoms in lab workers. Research published in 2004 found similar linkages in residential settings. Rodent allergens are likely from rodent urine, saliva, or skin.
It is clear that many inner-city residents are exposed to and allergic to rodents. A major study on asthma among inner-city children found that nearly 20 percent of asthmatic children had been sensitized to rats and 15 percent were sensitized to mice. This is important to note, as research has found mouse allergen in 82 percent of US homes.
Rodents can also expose humans to diseases such as hantavirus. Exposure to such disease vectors is rare but can cause severe health problems.
Integrated pest management (IPM) approaches offer effective means of eliminating rodents from the home. IPM methods focus on preventing infestations, trapping rodents, and limited use of lower-toxicity pesticides. However, even after a rodent population is controlled, rodent hair, urine, and fecal allergens may remain and can trigger allergic reactions in some people.
Sources and Additional Information:
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American – www.aafa.org
Asthma Regional Council – www.asthmaregionalcouncil.org
Beyond Pesticides – Integrated pest management to control mice –www.beyondpesticides.org/alternatives/factsheets/MOUSE%20CONTROL.pdf and www.beyondpesticides.org/infoservices/pesticidesandyou/Winter%2000-01/Minimizing%20Mouse%20Madness.pdf
Cohn R PhD, Arbes S, Jr. PhD, Yin M PhD, Jaramillo R MStat, and Zeldin D MD. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, National prevalence and exposure risk for mouse allergen in US households, June 2004 – http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2003.12.592 (Abstract only)
Kattan M, H. Mitchell, P. Eggleston, P. Gergen, E. Crain, S. Redline, K. Weiss, R. Evans III, R. Kaslow, C. Kercsmar, F. Leickly, F. Malveaux, H.J., Wedner, Pediatr. Pulmonol, Characteristics of Inner-City Children with Asthma: The National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma Sutdy, 24:253-262, 1997
National Academy of Science, Institute of Medicine report Clearing the Air: Asthma and Indoor Air Exposures 2000 – http://books.nap.edu/books/0309064961/html/index.html
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – www.cdc.gov (Search under rodents)