Types of Diseases That Rodents Carry

Posted: May 17, 2021

Mice, Rats

Rodents aren’t just a nuisance because of their tendency to find and eat human food. They’re also a major pest concern because they can transmit a number of dangerous diseases to humans through their waste and other forms of contamination. Rats and mice are known to carry pathogens that can cause more than 35 different diseases, so if you have a rodent problem, it’s important to your health and safety that you find a way to get rid of them. Here are some of the infectious diseases that rodents carry that could be a danger to your household.



Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a potentially life-threatening disease that spreads mainly through the waste of deer mice. This virus can spread through direct contact with rodent urine or feces, through the consumption of contaminated foods, or even through a rodent bite. After exposure, the virus can take one to five weeks to fully develop, at which time flu-like symptoms may appear, such as fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and chills. Abdominal problems may result as well, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. If not properly treated, a hantavirus infection can prove fatal.

Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis

Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM) is also a viral infection caused by the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) that can spread through contact with rodents, especially the common house mouse. It may transmit through contact with a mouse’s urine or feces, touching its nesting materials, or a bite.

LCM has two primary infection phases. The first phase includes early symptoms of a viral infection, such as fatigue, fever, muscle aches, lack of appetite, headache, nausea, and vomiting. The second phase includes much more serious symptoms that can become neurological. According to the CDC, symptoms may include fever, headache, stiff neck, drowsiness, confusion, sensory disturbances, and/or motor abnormalities, such as paralysis. It may also cause an inflammation of both the brain and meninges. LCM is not usually fatal, but it can be severe enough for hospitalization, and it may be difficult for an infected individual to recover from the effects of the neurological symptoms.

Bubonic Plague

Perhaps the most famous rodent-caused sickness due to its effects on the European population during the Middle Ages, bubonic plague, or Black Death, is transmitted through rats that have been infected by fleas with the bacterium Yersinia pestis. However, since this disease is actually transmitted through infected fleas, you may also be exposed to it by untreated pets. In general, this bacteria can be transmitted through handling an infected animal or by coming in contact with contaminated fluid or tissue. Symptoms usually appear two to six days after exposure, and can include fever, headache, chills, and weakness, and one or more swollen, tender, and painful lymph nodes (called buboes). This disease can be treated fairly easily with antibiotics, but if left untreated, it can definitely lead to death.


Tularemia is a disease caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. It can be spread through contact with many different rodents, including hares and rabbits, through fly and tick bites, and through contaminated water and airborne dust particles.

There are several forms that tularemia symptoms can take, but the most common is the development of skin ulcers and swollen lymph nodes, which usually occur following a tick or deer fly bite or after handling an infected animal like a mouse or rat. A skin ulcer appears at the site where the organism entered the body and is accompanied by the swelling of localized lymph glands, usually in the armpit or groin. This disease can be life-threatening, but it can also be treated by antibiotics.


Salmonellosis is a disease caused by the bacterium salmonella, and it can be spread in a number of ways. Most people know this as a disease that spreads through contaminated food, and infected rodents can definitely be a cause of that. Salmonella causes food poisoning, and its symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain. It’s not as serious of a disease as other rodent-borne infections, but it can still cause significant pain and distress for an extended period of time, especially if it’s left untreated.

Rat-Bite Fever

Rat-bite fever is a bacterial disease that spreads to humans through contact with an infected rodent or through eating food that a rodent has contaminated. It is caused by two different types of bacteria, Streptobacillus moniliformis (the kind primarily found in North America) and Spirillum minus (which can be found in Asia). According to the CDC, symptoms usually show up 3-10 days after exposure to an infected source, and can include fever, vomiting, headaches, rash and muscle pain. This disease is treatable by antibiotics.

Rodent Control

A rodent infestation that gets out of control can leave you susceptible to contracting diseases like this, which is why it’s a good idea to prevent them from entering your home or business in the first place. But if an infestation does begin to develop, it’s important to get rid of it as soon as possible. You can begin to get rid of a rodent infestation by doing some of the following activities:

  • Contact a professional pest control company
  • Clean up and disinfect all surfaces and floors where rodents might have traveled
  • Set up traps
  • Throw away contaminated food and dispose of all trash
  • Carefully dispose of any dead rodents or rodent droppings you may find using proper safety equipment

Even with immediate measures taken, it can be difficult to eradicate a wild rodent infestation, so it’s best to contact the professionals to take care of the problem. At Dodson Pest Control, we offer free inspections to help you solve your rodent problem. Contact us today!