IN SHORT: The claim that dried mouse urine found on tin cans could infect people with leptospira has resurfaced on Facebook. But the bacteria that causes the infectious disease can’t survive on dry surfaces.
A Facebook post circulating in March 2023 in South Africa warns readers to “rinse the parts evenly on all soda cans before drinking” from them.
It is passed from animals to humans. According to the World Health Organization “the disease is found mainly wherever humans come into contact with the urine of infected animals or a urine-polluted environment”.
The Facebook post claims two people were hospitalised and one died after drinking from tin cans infected with Leptospira.
Dry, sealed can tops safe from leptospirosis
It is unlikely that a person would catch the disease from drinking from a tin can, unless the can had been opened and the content included droplets of leptospires-contaminated urine or soil, according to this study. The study also concluded that the can itself would have to have holes or tears for the bacteria to survive inside, because of the acidity of most soft drinks.
The US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies “swimming, wading, kayaking, and rafting in contaminated lakes and rivers” as activities where the risk of exposure to leptospirosis is high.
There is little evidence to suggest that the public needs to be wary of drinking from tin cans, for fear of catching leptospirosis.
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