Uninvited guests-whether they be your in-laws or pest infestations-can be annoying and frightening. But did you know pests can turn into more than just a nuisance? Rodents like mice, rats, rabbits, and prairie dogs carry a number of infectious diseases. They can transmit these diseases to humans and other animals, and these diseases can sometimes lead to serious health problems.

Several weeks ago we posted a blog about signs you have mice in your home. In that blog, we briefly mentioned a few diseases mice carry. To help you protect yourself and your family, we decided to put together a more comprehensive guide to diseases carried and transmitted by rodents.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)

First discovered in 1993, HPS is a serious respiratory disease that can become fatal. You can contract this disease by suffering a rodent bite, touching rodent fecal matter, or breathing in dust contaminated by rodent droppings. Its symptoms tend to manifest themselves 4-10 days after initial contact with a rodent.


  • Fatigue and muscle aches
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, and/or vomiting

Rodents Who Carry HPS:

  • Deer mouse
  • Rice rat
  • White-footed mouse

HPS occurs most commonly in the Western United States, but it affects all of North and South America.

Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM)

LCM is a virus that spreads from rodent to rodent and, in some cases, from rodent to human. Infection occurs after exposure to fresh droppings or urine or contact with rodent saliva. Direct exposure to the disease can also occur through the nose, mouth, or broken ski n.

LCM has two phases, the first of which is less severe.

Phase 1 Symptoms:

  • Sore throat and/or cough
  • Pain throughout the body, including in the chest, joints, and salivary glands
  • Pain throughout the body, including in the chest, joints, and salivary glands
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

Phase 2 Symptoms:

LCM's second phase often leads to neurologic diseases and the following conditions.

  • Meningitis (headache, fever, stiff neck)
  • Encephalitis (confusion, drowsiness, motor abnormalities, sensory disturbances)
  • Meningoencephalitis (inflammation and swelling around the brain)

Rodents Who Carry LCM:

  • Common house mouse
  • Hamsters (this is rare)

LCM is rarely fatal. However, because it affects the brain, people who contract LCM might sustain temporary or permanent neurological damage. Furthermore, pregnant women can pass the disease onto their unborn children, causing serious birth defects.


Leptospirosis doesn't only affect rodents in New Jersey-rodents all over the world carry it. You can contract it by eating food or drinking liquids contaminated by rodent fecal matter. If untreated, leptospirosis can cause liver failure, kidney damage, respiratory difficulties, and even death.


  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Muscle pain and headaches
  • Abdominal pain and diarrhea
  • Rash

Rodents Who Carry Leptospirosis:

All animals-both domestic and wild-can carry leptospirosis. Mice and rats are common carriers, as are lizards.

Rat Bite Fever

Rat bite fever is especially dangerous not only because it can prove fatal, but because it sometimes doesn't manifest itself for up to t hree months after contraction. You can contract rat bite fever by coming into direct contact with an infected rodent or by eating food contaminated by feces.


  • Incessant chills and fever
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Red, swollen, tender rash

Rodents Who Carry Rat Bite Fever:

Rodents Who Carry Rat Bite Fever:

Rats predominantly carry this disease, although some mice carry it as well.


People have reported cases of tularemia in all states except Hawaii. It occurs as a fairly common infection in animals because it easily transfers between organisms. People can contract it by handling dead animal carcasses, suffering a bite from an infected animal, or eatin g or drinking contaminated food.


Tularemia symptoms vary widely depending on how the infection enters the body. One symptom, however, tends to occur in all cases. People who contract tularemia often experience a fever, which can climb as high as 104℉.

Rodents Who Carry Tularemia:

  • Rabbits and hares
  • Squirrels
  • Muskrats
  • Beavers

Ticks and flies also commonly carry tularemia. They often bite an animal, become infected, then transfer the disease to other sources .


These are just five diseases you might contract from a rodent. Rodents can also carry salmonellosis, dysentery, plague, and many ot her diseases.

If you discover rodent droppings in your food, do not eat that food. Look for droppings in other food sources, and discard anything you suspect a rodent has touched. Furthermore, do not touch rodent waste. Use rubber gloves and disposable cloths to clean up any droppings or urine you find.

When you notice rodents in or near your home, don't wait to take care of the problem. Contact pest control experts as soon as you see a rodent near your home to avoid contracting the conditions above.

Do you have a pest that is bothering you?

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