US researchers are advising that pregnant women should avoid any contact with rodents because a virus they carry can cause brain damage to a foetus.
According to Dr Daniel Bonthius of the University of Iowa, Roy J and Lucille A Csarver College of Medicine in a report carried by the Daily Graphic, Lymphocytic choriomeningtis virus or LCMV is an infectious agent carried by house mice and other rodents that can cause severe brain damage in a foetus and the risk of LCMV transmission increases in winter when rodents seek shelter in homes.
“Pregnant women should avoid contact with rodents, especially mice or anything the animals have been in contact with”, said Bonthius, who is also a pediatric neurologist with Children's Hospital of Iowa at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. “Women in both urban and rural areas should be aware of the risks and take appropriate steps to protect themselves”.
While field mice pose the most risk, there have been instances of LCMV infection involving mice and hamsters purchased at pet stores, according to Bonthius.
“The virus is present wherever wild mice live, therefore the virus is present virtually every where.