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Dangerous Diseases Spread by Rats and Rodents


Updated: Dec 26, 2022

Rats and rodents are unwelcome guests in everybody’s home. They come and destroy furniture, clothes, and other home structures. Often, you can hear them moving from one point of the ceiling to another. Besides physical damages, rats and rodents can cause diseases that are deadly. Rats and rodents carry hazardous diseases. We have outlined the infections below.


Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome(HPS) is transmitted mainly by rodents, the deer mouse, rice rat, cotton rat, and white-footed mouse. The disease infection rate is high in areas with forests and farms that provide a suitable condition for the host to live. Areas where rodents live, especially around homes, expose people to the virus.

The virus is found in their urine, saliva, and droppings, which break into airborne droplets when mixed up with other things in the environment. Any contact with the virus is a risk of infection.

Early symptoms include muscle aches, fatigue, and fever. One could also experience dizziness and abdominal problems like abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Late symptoms(4 to 10 days later) include shortness of breath and coughing. HPS has a mortality rate of 38%.

Hantavirus is hard to detect. Its symptoms are confused with influenza syndrome. However, if you have a record of rodent waste, HPS should be considered. When you visit your physician, you should inform them of the potential rodent. This virus has no specific cure or vaccine; hence you should keep your home area clean and disinfected to avoid infection.

Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV)

LCMV is common with the house mouse. The virus is spread worldwide, unlike hantavirus, which is common in the south and north America.

The disease is transmitted through dust contaminated with rodent waste and direct contact with rodent waste. Also, when you get bitten by rodents, however, this is not a common mode of transmission.

Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus occurs in two stages. The first stage symptoms include vomiting, headache, nausea, lack of appetite, and muscle aches. In the second stage, patients can get meningitis, meningoencephalitis, and encephalitis.


Tularemia is a disease caused by bacteria prone to rabbits, hares, and rodents. Infection can be caused by infected insects like ticks and deer fly. Handling infected animals can also cause you to be infected. Also, drinking contaminated water causes infection.

Some signs and symptoms of the disease include skin ulcers. This is experienced when the disease enters the body. It is usually referred to as Ulceroglandular. Another symptom is irritation and swelling of the eye and lymph glands in the ear area, which occurs when the bacteria contact your eye. A patient can also become pneumonic where they experience coughing and chest pains.

When seeking treatment for Tularemia, you need to share with your doctor any exposure to anything that causes infection. Tularemia is often treated using antibiotics like ciprofloxacin and streptomycin. Depending on the disease level, treatment takes 10 to 21 days.


Salmonella is a bacterial disease carried by rodents in their digestive duct. Rats and mice majorly cause it. Any contact with rodent waste, especially through consuming contaminated food, is a source of infection.

Symptoms of salmonella include fever, chills, abdominal cramps, vomiting, nausea, and muscle pain. Salmonella infections usually end within seven days. A common treatment of the disease is taking a lot of fluids. To get proper treatment, you should inform your doctor of your previous interactions with rodents.

To avoid infection, wash your hands thoroughly after interacting with pets. You should ensure that your pet’s area is cleaned regularly to reduce the chances of infection.


Plague is caused by wild rodents like prairie dogs, rock and fox squirrels, and wood rats. The disease is a bacterial infection occurring in Africa, Western US, South America, and Asia. The disease spreads through contact with infected animals or bites from an infected flea.

Plague can take different forms, which have different symptoms. There’s the bubonic plague that causes a person to have fever, chills, and headaches. If not treated early, the bacteria spread to the rest of the body.

Septicemic plague is indicated by weakness, shock, fever, and bleeding into the skin. The skin may die or turn black, especially on toes and fingers. Lastly, there’s the pneumonic plague. This plague shares common symptoms with the rest; however, there are additional symptoms like pneumonia. A patient experiences shortness of breath, coughs, and chest pains. Pneumonic plague is transmitted by inhaling infected air. Also, the other two plagues can cause pneumonic plague when they spread to the lungs.


Rodent diseases can be fatal if not attended to early. Once you get any symptoms related to rats and rodents, you should seek immediate help. To avoid any infections, ensure that you maintain your hygiene and that of your home. Also, if you have animals or pets, ensure that they are appropriately taken care of together with their homes.

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