Mice and disease
Mice can carry diseases such as leptospirosis. When handling baits, dead mice or items contaminated by mice, wear gloves and protective clothing. Always wash your hands with soap and water, especially before handling food or drinks, or smoking.
Watch our video featuring Australia’s Deputy Chief Health Officer, Dr Sonya Bennett, as she talks about leptospirosis including preventative measures, symptoms to be aware of, and how the disease is treated.
Leptospirosis is a rare, bacterial disease that affects animals and humans. It is caused by the Leptospira bacteria that can be spread through the urine of infected animals such as mice, rats, cattle and marsupials.
Agriculture workers are most at risk including dairy, sugar cane and banana farmers, fruit pickers, veterinarians, abattoir and fish workers.
The most common way people become sick with leptospirosis is from:
- contact with urine or tissues of infected animals
- contact with water, agricultural vegetation, soil, or mud contaminated with infected urine.
Leptospira bacteria can enter the body through broken skin, or through the lining in the mouth, eyes and nose by exposure to water, soil or mud contaminated with the urine of infected animals. It is possible for people to become sick after:
- not thoroughly washing their hands
- wading through or swimming in contaminated water
- drinking or eating contaminated water/food sources
- breathing in dried urine particles in the air excreted by cattle or mice and rats
- working with animals, sugar cane, bananas and other fruit.
In Australia, leptospirosis outbreaks frequently occur in the summer months and after heavy rainfall and flooding. Leptospira bacteria can survive in soil and freshwater for weeks to months.
While there is no leptospirosis vaccine for people, there is a vaccine is available for pigs, cattle, and dogs.
Visit the Department of Health website to read more about leptospirosis.
Mental health services
We know farmers are busy but protecting their own, and their family’s health and wellbeing during mouse infestations and other enduring situations is important.
A range of mental health services are available for all Australians, whenever and wherever they need. Individuals affected by mouse infestations, drought or other circumstances can access mental health support through a range of face-to-face, digital and phone services.
- Call 000 if you or someone you know is in an emergency or in immediate risk of harm.
- Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for immediate crisis support.
- If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone who is considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide, the Suicide Call Back Service is available on 1300 659 467.
- FarmHub - Mental Health Resources administered by the National Farmers’ Federation.
- Head to Health connects Australians to information, advice, and free or low-cost phone and online mental health services and support.
- Primary Health Networks (PHNs) are a great place to find local services. The Australian Government funds PHNs to engage with local mental health resources in addition to what is available through Head to Health. Find your local PHN
- If you live in NSW, Victoria or the ACT you can also call 1800 595 212 to speak to a trained professional who will take the time to understand what is going on in your life, and if you need it, connect you to the best support or service for you.