Of mice and disease: Antibiotic-resistant bacteria discovered in NYC house mice

April 17, 2018

A study by scientists at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health finds New York City house mice carry bacteria responsible for mild to life-threatening gastroenteritis in people, and some of these bacteria may be resistant to antibiotics. Findings appear in the journal mBio.

The researchers collected 416 mice from residential buildings at seven sites across New York City over a period of one year. A genetic analysis of their droppings revealed that the mice carry several gastrointestinal disease-causing bacteria, including C. difficile, E. coli, Shigella, as well as Salmonella, a leading cause of bacterial food poisoning in the U.S. with 1.4 million reported cases annually along with 15,000 hospitalizations and 400 deaths. They also found evidence of genes mediating antimicrobial resistance to several common antibiotics.

"From tiny studios to penthouse suites, New York City apartments are continually invaded by house mice," says lead author Simon H. Williams, BSc, a research scientist at the Center for Infection and Immunity. "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."

According to the researchers, it is well known that salmonella infections can be the result of food contaminated with animal waste--including mouse feces. C. difficile infections, while mostly acquired in healthcare settings, could also be spread in the community by the mice that harbor the pathogens.

A second study, also published in mBio, provides a detailed look at viruses present in the mice droppings. The researchers found 36 viruses, including six new viruses, none of which are known to infect humans. However, they identified genetic sequences matching viruses that infect dogs, chickens, and pigs, suggesting the possibility that some of the viruses had crossed over from other species. Mice from Chelsea, heavier than mice from other sites, also carried more viruses.

A previous study of rats in New York by investigators at CII found several of the same pathogens, including E. coli, Salmonella, and C. difficile.

"New Yorkers tend to focus on rats because they are larger and we see them scurrying around in streets or subways; however, from a public health vantage point, mice are more worrisome because they live indoors and are more likely to contaminate our environment, even if we don't see them," says senior author W. Ian Lipkin, MD, senior author of both papers, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology, and director of CII.
-end-
Additional co-authors of the bacteria paper include Xiaoyu Che, Cheng Guo, Bohyun Lee, and Dorothy Muller at CII; Ashley Paulick at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Anne-Catrin Uhlemann and Franklin D. Lowy; and Robert M. Corrigan of RMC Pest Management Consulting. Additional co-authors of the virus paper include Xiaoyu Che, Joel A. Garcia, Bohyun Lee, Dorothy Muller, and Komal Jain at CII; John D. Klena and Stuart Nichol at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Werner Ulrich, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Torun ?, Poland; and Robert M. Corrigan, RMC Pest Management Consulting.

Both studies were supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (U19AI109761: Center for Research in Diagnostics and Discovery) and from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

Founded in 1922, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting New Yorkers, the nation and the world. The Mailman School is the third largest recipient of NIH grants among schools of public health. Its over 450 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as preventing infectious and chronic diseases, environmental health, maternal and child health, health policy, climate change & health, and public health preparedness. It is a leader in public health education with over 1,300 graduate students from more than 40 nations pursuing a variety of master's and doctoral degree programs. The Mailman School is also home to numerous world-renowned research centers including ICAP and the Center for Infection and Immunity. For more information, please visit http://www.mailman.columbia.edu.

Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

Related Bacteria Articles from Brightsurf:

Siblings can also differ from one another in bacteria
A research team from the University of Tübingen and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) is investigating how pathogens influence the immune response of their host with genetic variation.

How bacteria fertilize soya
Soya and clover have their very own fertiliser factories in their roots, where bacteria manufacture ammonium, which is crucial for plant growth.

Bacteria might help other bacteria to tolerate antibiotics better
A new paper by the Dynamical Systems Biology lab at UPF shows that the response by bacteria to antibiotics may depend on other species of bacteria they live with, in such a way that some bacteria may make others more tolerant to antibiotics.

Two-faced bacteria
The gut microbiome, which is a collection of numerous beneficial bacteria species, is key to our overall well-being and good health.

Microcensus in bacteria
Bacillus subtilis can determine proportions of different groups within a mixed population.

Right beneath the skin we all have the same bacteria
In the dermis skin layer, the same bacteria are found across age and gender.

Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.

How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.

The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?

Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.

Read More: Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.