Mice that live in the basements of New York City apartment buildings — even at the most exclusive addresses — carry disease-causing bacteria, antibiotic-resistant bugs and viruses that have never been seen before, a new study from Columbia University finds.
Researchers collected feces from more than 400 mice captured over a year in eight buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. The team then analyzed the droppings for bacteria and viruses.
The viruses included nine species that had never been seen before and others that have not been known to cause human disease, according to the study, published Tuesday in the journal mBio.
But in a second study focused on bacteria, the researchers detected some of the most recognizable disease-causing pathogens, including Shigella, Salmonella, Clostridium difficile and E. coli. The scientists also found antibiotic-resistant bacteria like those that have become nearly untreatable at area hospitals.
It’s unclear whether the bacteria on the mice pose any health threat to people or have caused any human disease. But for centuries, rodents have been linked to illnesses like the Black Death.