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Rodent-Transmitted Diseases

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According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), rats and mice spread more than 35 diseases worldwide. The diseases are spread to humans directly: through contact with rodent feces, saliva or urine, rodent bites and mere contact. Rodent diseases, however, can also be spread indirectly: ticks, fleas and mites that have fed, at some point, on the infected rodent and then transmit that infection to humans.

Rodent-Transmitted Diseases

Hantavirus 

Hantavirus s a life-threatening disease transmitted by rodents, particularly deer mice. The virus is found in rodent urine and feces, but it does not make the host animal sick. It is believed that humans can become sick if they come in contact with contaminated dust from mice nests or droppings. However, hantavirus is not spread from humans to humans. As of November 1, 2012, there were 10 confirmed cases of hantavirus in Yosemite National Park. Three of the confirmed cases were fatal.

The early symptoms of the disease are: chills, muscle aches and fever. Symptoms can quickly worsen: dry cough, headache, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting and general malaise. Treatments may include: breathing tube or machine, oxygen, medication (ribavin) to treat kidney-related problems and reduce the risk of death. 

Salmonella 

Salmonella is a bacteria food-borne illness. It is transmitted when rodents contaminate food or working surfaces where food is prepared. Common symptoms that are developed by people who have contracted salmonella, include fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea that last for up to 7 days. Young children and the elderly are at higher risk to salmonella. In recent years, numerous salmonella outbreaks have been linked to rodents, especially feeder rodents (live or frozen rats and mice used to feed pets such as reptiles).

Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCMV) 

Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis is a rodent-borne viral infectious disease that causes serious neurological problems, including  aseptic meningitis (inflammation of the meninges that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). It is primarily carried by the house mouse, but hamsters in contact with wild mice at pet stores can also carry the disease. Individuals become infected with LCMV after exposure to fresh urine, saliva, droppings or nesting materials.

A few other common rodent-transmitted diseases:

  • Leptospirosis: also known as ‘Weil’s disease’, is contracted through contaminated food or water from the urine of infected rats.
  • Typhus: rat fleas transmit this to humans, via the oriental rat flea. The flea will defecate while sucking blood thus contaminating the bite site.
  • Lassa Fever is an acute viral illness that occurs in West Africa. The number of Lassa virus infections per year in West Africa is estimated at 100,000 - 300,000 with approximately 5,000 deaths.

If you believe you have contracted any of the above diseases, you should seek medical assistance immediately. Concerned about rodent infestations in your home? Call Ehrlich Pest Control at (888) 976-4649 to arrange a free pest inspection.

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