3 Rodent Diseases

Rodents are pesky creatures that find their way into your home in search of shelter, food, and water. A rodent infestation means dealing with lots of dirty droppings for most people. But rodents can also carry infectious diseases.

Understanding what diseases rodents can transmit can help you protect yourself.

The following are a few of the diseases spread by rodents.

  1. Hantavirus

The deer mouse, cotton rat, rice rat, and white-footed rat spread Hantavirus. ‌Hantavirus is a life-threatening disease that can cause blood, kidney, and respiratory ailments.

One can receive an infection with the virus in various ways, but house infestation remains the primary risk. The most common form of transmission is through direct contact and inhalation. You may stir rodent urine and droppings and make them airborne when cleaning. Breathing in the air mixed up with infected droppings can infect you with the virus.

The virus can also spread to humans through bites from an infected rodent or eating contaminated food. Though unclear, the incubation period for Hantavirus is about one to five weeks, after which severe symptoms may show. However, some early symptoms of the disease include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches in the hips, thighs, and shoulders

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a severe respiratory disease caused by the Hantavirus and can be fatal. No known vaccine or cure exists for the Hantavirus. Therefore, you must prevent rodent infestation inside and outside your home.

  1. Plague

Plague affects all mammals, including humans. The disease-causing agent is the Yersinia pestis bacterium. The two most common modes of transmission are handling an infected rodent in your yard or a bite from an infected rodent flea.

The plague was fatal during the middle ages, but modern antibiotics have proven effective treatment.

Rodents responsible for the plague, such as rock squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and wood rats, are fond of grasslands and upland forests. The disease is, therefore, prevalent in rural and semi-rural United States.

Several forms of the plague exist, including:

  • Bubonic plague: Often caused by a fleabite. The bubonic plague causes painful swollen lymph nodes near the bacteria entry points.
  • Septicemic plague: May develop from untreated bubonic plague or a new infection from a bite or handling an infected animal.
  • Pneumonic plague: The pneumonic plague is highly contagious and the deadliest form of the plague. The Pneumonic plague develops when a human inhales bacteria-contaminated air.

Reducing rodent encounters will reduce the chances of contracting the plague. Homeowners should seal all house cracks and crevices and ensure that pets are clean.

  1. Tularemia

Also known as rabbit fever, Tularemia is a rare infection caused by the Francisella tularensis bacterium.

The incubation period for the disease is 3 to 5 days but can also extend to 14 days.

The disease is common in rodents, hares, rabbits, and squirrels. Tularemia can also affect domestic animals and pets in the home.

You can typically get Tularemia by handling infected animals or insect bites. One can also suffer an infection by consuming contaminated food and water or inhaling airborne bacteria.

Tularemia can be fatal, but fortunately, one cannot contract the bacteria from an infected person. The disease harbors nasty symptoms such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Mouth sores
  • Muscle aches
  • Progressive weakness
  • Skin ulcers
  • Swollen lymph glands

Be careful to use gloves when handling rabbits or any other rodents. Rabbit fever, however, is treatable through antibiotics if recognized early.

A rodent infestation can lead to fatal diseases like the three on the list above. Homeowners ought to be vigilant in preventing rodents from entering the home by properly disposing of trash. Homeowners can also make the home and outbuildings rodent-proof. However, eliminating a wild rodent is not always easy if already infested. Therefore, contact professionals to take care of the problem.

For more information on rodents and how you can prevent an infestation in your home, contact us today.