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Allergen Fact Sheets

Mouse Allergen Facts, Symptoms & Treatment

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Year round
Allergy Insider

About mouse

Mouse allergens can lead to the development of asthma and rhinitis (aka hay fever), and they're an important cause of asthma-related symptoms in urban and suburban areas. The major allergen in mice is found in urine, hair follicles and dander; however, it can become airborne and migrate throughout buildings.1,2 Mouse allergy is also an occupational health issue. A condition called laboratory animal allergy (LAA) is commonly observed among laboratory animal workers in pharmaceutical industries, university laboratories, and animal breeding facilities, where prevalence ranges from 11 to 44 percent. Most often caused by mice and rats, LAA has been known to affect technicians, animal caretakers, physicians, and scientists. Symptoms, including allergic asthma and allergic rhino conjunctivitis (which involves reactions similar to hay fever and pink eye) can sometimes initiate as many as two to three years after initial exposure.3

The common house mouse is a primarily nocturnal mammal, and although it’s usually considered to be a pest, some are kept as pets.1 Although mice are ground dwellers, they are also agile climbers, leapers, and swimmers.4 In fact, they can leap 12 inches in height, survive 8 foot jumps to the floor, and squeeze through openings of only 0.6 centimeters (0.25 inches) in diameter. Plus, they’re able to travel upside down and scale myriad vertical surfaces including wood, metal, wire mesh, bricks, cables, and ropes.1

Outdoors, mice consume seeds and insects, but indoors they eat nearly anything digestible.4 Given their agility, mice can infest a variety of environments such as homes, schools, hospitals, stores, and restaurants, where they can also cause structural damage.1,5

Where is a mouse found?

Allergens are located in mouse urine, hair follicles, and dander; plus, they’re found in settled dust as well as in the air.1,2 Rodents can infest myriad environments such as homes, schools, hospitals, stores, and restaurants, causing year-round symptoms.5 In fact, in one U.S. housing survey, 82 percent of homes had at least one detectable mouse allergen.1 Overall, housing environments in urban areas are more likely to have high levels of rodents than suburban homes.5

Are there other allergens I could be sensitized to?*

Some people with a mouse allergy may also experience symptoms when exposed to other rodents such as rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits. This is called cross reactivity and occurs when your body's immune system identifies the proteins, or components, in different substances as being structurally similar or biologically related, thus triggering a response.3

*These products may not be approved for clinical use in your country. Please work with your healthcare provider to understand availability.

How do I manage my allergy?

If you are allergic to mouse, your healthcare provider may recommend a plan that includes the following.5-7,9,10

Exposure reduction
  • Locate and remove mouse hiding places and food sources.
  • Store food in sealed containers.
  • Clean and remove pet food bowls after pets are done eating.
  • Remove clutter.
  • Exterminate and then seal holes and cracks to prevent reinfestation.
  • Deep clean the environment once rodents have been removed to reduce residual allergens.
  • Consider contacting a professional exterminator to implement Integrated pest management approach to remove facilitative factors (e.g., food, water, block entrances and, when necessary, kill or trap pests.
Symptom relief

Your healthcare provider may direct you to take one of the following medications to improve your allergy symptoms:

  • Antihistamines are commonly used to reduce symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and runny nose.
  • Nasal corticosteroids are used to reduce swelling in the nose and block allergic reactions.
  • Decongestants can be employed to relieve stuffiness.
Emergency plan

If you're with someone who's having an allergic reaction and shows signs of shock, act fast. Look for pale, cool, and clammy skin; a weak, rapid pulse; trouble breathing; confusion; and loss of consciousness. Do the following immediately:

  • Call local emergency services.
  • Ensure the person is lying down and elevate his or her legs.
  • Administer epinephrine immediately for any obvious signs of a potentially severe systemic reaction.
  • Check the person’s pulse and breathing and administer CPR or other first-aid measures if necessary.
Identifying individual allergen triggers can help you stay below your symptom threshold.
Learn more

COMMON SYMPTOMS

Most scientific literature focuses on how mouse allergens exacerbate asthma symptoms, perhaps leading to reduced lung function. However, at least one study indicates that mouse allergy is linked to year-round rhinitis (aka hay fever).6 Symptoms of hay fever can include:7

  • Runny nose
  • Itchy eyes, mouth, or skin
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Cough

Symptoms of laboratory animal allergy (LAA), a disease commonly observed in workers in pharmaceutical industries, university laboratories, and animal breeding facilities, include allergic asthma and allergic rhino conjunctivitis (which involves reactions similar to hay fever and pink eye).8

Rodent allergens also can cause serious adverse health effects, but a chain of events is typically necessary for this to occur. After exposure to the allergen, some individuals develop allergy. Next, further exposure leads to the development of asthma or rhinitis (aka hay fever). Once a respiratory disease is present, additional exposures can cause exacerbated respiratory symptoms.1

HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M ALLERGIC?*

Together with your symptom history, skin-prick testing or specific IgE blood testing can help determine if you are allergic to a particular allergen. If you are diagnosed with an allergy, your healthcare provider will work with you to create a management plan.

*These products may not be approved for clinical use in your country. Please work with your healthcare provider to understand availability.

IS THERE A RISK FOR A SEVERE EVENT?

Sensitization to furry animals is common and a risk factor for the development of allergic rhinitis and asthma.3 In fact, asthmatic children who are sensitized and exposed to high mouse allergen concentrations at home are at a greater risk for symptoms, exacerbations, and reduced lung function.6 Laboratory animal allergy (LAA), an occupational allergy to rodents among laboratory animal workers, is common.3,8 Although symptoms are usually mild, anaphylaxis is possible and could be life threatening.8

References
  1. Phipatanakul W, Matsui E, Portnoy J, Williams PB, Barnes C, Kennedy K, Bernstein D, Blessing-Moore J, Cox L, Khan D, Lang D, Nicklas R, Oppenheimer J, Randolph C, Schuller D, Spector S, Tilles SA, Wallace D, Sublett J, Bernstein J, Grimes C, Miller JD, Seltzer J; Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters. Environmental assessment and exposure reduction of rodents: a practice parameter. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2012 Dec;109(6):375-87. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2012.09.019. PMID: 23176873; PMCID: PMC3519934. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3519934.
  2. Baxi SN, Phipatanakul W. The role of allergen exposure and avoidance in asthma. Adolesc Med State Art Rev. 2010 Apr;21(1):57-71, viii-ix. PMID: 20568555; PMCID: PMC2975603. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2975603.
  3. EAACI, et al. Molecular allergology user’s guide. Pediatric Allergy Immunol. 2016 May;27 Suppl 23:1-250. do: 10.1111/pai.12563. PMID: 27288833. (285-289 p.) Available from: http://www.eaaci.org/documents/Molecular_Allergology-web.pdf.
  4. Encyclopedia Britannica [Internet]. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.; 2020 Apr 30. Available from: https://www.britannica.com/animal/mouse-rodent.
  5. Portnoy J. World Allergy Organization [Internet]. Milwaukee, WI: World Allergy Organization; 2004 Dec [2018 Mar]. Available from: https://www.worldallergy.org/education-and-programs/education/allergic-disease-resource-center/professionals/allergen-avoidance.
  6. Matsui EC. Management of rodent exposure and allergy in the pediatric population. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2013 Dec;13(6):681-6. doi: 10.1007/s11882-013-0378-4. PMID: 23912589; PMCID: PMC3840032. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3840032.
  7. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology [Internet]. Arlington Heights, IL: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; 2020 Jun 17. Available from:
    https://acaai.org/allergies/types/hay-fever-rhinitis.
  8. Kampitak T, Betschel SD. Anaphylaxis in laboratory workers because of rodent handling: two case reports. J Occup Health. 2016 Jul 22;58(4):381-3. doi: 10.1539/joh.16-0053-CS. Epub 2016 Jun 6. PMID: 27265535; PMCID: PMC5356946.
  9. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Rochester, MN: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2019 Sep 14. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anaphylaxis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351474#:~:text=During%20an%20anaphylactic%20attack%2C%20you,Oxygen%2C%20to%20help%20you%20breathe.
  10. Portnoy J. World Allergy Organization [Internet]. Milwaukee, WI: World allergy Organization; 2004 Dec [2018 Mar]. Available from: https://www.worldallergy.org/education-and-programs/education/allergic-disease-resource-center/professionals/allergen-avoidance.