Rodent Dangers

Rodents as Disease Vehicles

In the past century alone, more than 10 million people have died from rodent-borne diseases. Although rodents are not major threats to our everyday health, it is justified to be concerned over the potential for rodents to transmit diseases. By their very nature and design, rodents make excellent “vehicles” for harboring and rapidly transporting diseases.

 

Diseases

Lyme Disease

Description

Skin lesions, fever, headaches, arthralgias

Carrier

All rodents; most commonly deer mice

Mode of Transmission

Rodent tick bite

Comments

This is the most common and widespread tick-borne disease in the U.S.

Salmonella (Food Poisoning)

Description

Causes intestinal disorders

Carrier

Rats, Mice

Mode of Transmission

Rodent feces contamination

Comments

The World Health Organization estimates that 20% of food is destroyed or contaminated every year by rodents.

Rat-Bite Fever

Description

Relapsing fever that may last several months

Carrier

Rats, Mice

Mode of Transmission

Bacteria in mouth and nose of rodent, transmitted via bite or scratch

Comments

Occurs worldwide, but is most common in Asia

Hantavirus

Description

Flu-like symptoms, renal failure, severe respiratory distress

Carrier

Various rodents; primarily deer mice

Mode of Transmission

In feces, urine, body fluids

Comments

HV outbreak in 1994 resulted in more than 50 death in 17 states. At least 7 different strains of HV have been identified

Typhus

Description

Fever, headache, rash, respiratory attack

Carrier

Rats, Mice

Mode of Transmission

Rat flea bite

Comments

Port cities or riverine environments, often serve as havens for rats harboring fleas.

Plague

Description

Attacks circulatory & respiratory systems

Carrier

Various rodents

Mode of Transmission

Rodent flea bite or by handling an infected animal

Comments

Millions of people in Europe died from plague in the Middle Ages; Plague still occurs in many parts of the world

Pox (Rickettsial)

Description

Lesion followed by fever, headache, rash

Carrier

House mouse

Mode of Transmission

Bite of a mite which lives on mice

Comments

An outbreak of this disease occurred in 1946 in housing developments in New York City which were overrun with mite-infested mice