A case of Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM), a disease previously not thought to occur in Queensland, has been recorded in Toowoomba.
LCM can be carried by wild rodents but it rarely causes illness in humans and the mortality rate is low. In some cases though it can cause congenital infection in pregnant women, particularly in the first trimester, which may result in birth defects or miscarriage.
The virus is contracted by exposure to rodent urine, faeces, saliva, bites or nesting sites. It can be breathed in from dust particles from nesting sites or droppings; ingested by contaminated food or water; or can enter the body through scratches or cuts while touching contaminated surfaces.
Pregnant women and people with lowered immunity, who are in contact with rodents or areas they have been in, are most at risk.
The majority of people who come in contact with the virus don’t become unwell at all. The very small percentage of people who become ill, may experience a flu-like illness with high fevers, severe tiredness, headaches, lack of appetite and joint aches. Some of those people may develop meningitis with symptoms of photophobia, neck stiffness, confusion and nausea. It is important they seek medical attention.
To prevent exposure to the virus:
- wear gloves if handling dead or live rodents
- protect food from wild mice
- clean up mouse or rat droppings and nest areas carefully = (damp methods and/or PPE)
- wash your hands regularly with soap and running water- particularly important before eating, drinking, smoking and touching your face
- protect pet rodents (mice, rats and guinea pigs) from exposure to wild rodents as they can be infected and not show symptoms – do not clean pet cages in food preparation areas – clean hands after handling pets
- disinfect surfaces rodents have been on.
Staying healthy during a mouse plague - Fact sheets (nsw.gov.au)