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Diseases Caused by Rats and Mice

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Although certain classes of mice are bred for show, most people consider mice as pests. Mice and rats can wreak havoc in a home, chewing through valuable furniture or documents, or even creating holes in many parts of a house, which then affects the integrity of the structure. But apart from these issues, another serious concern is that rodents may carry life-threatening illnesses. Below are 3 examples of diseases which are likely caused by rats or mice.


Caused by the bacterium Salmonella, the disease is transmitted by many kinds of animals, like dogs, cats, lizards, snakes and rodents. When there is a rodent infestation in a home or commercial establishment, this increases the risk of the disease being transferred to people. There will be increased chances of contact between rodents and individuals. Salmonellosis is passed on when humans come into contact with droppings from infected rodents. When a person touches food or items that are already contaminated by the bacteria, the disease is passed on. Hence, proper hand washing is essential. Furthermore, food should be kept away from rodents, which is a challenging task when there is an infestation. Salmonellosis presents with fever, diarrhea and stomach ache. It’s not unusual for gastroenteritis due to salmonellosis to progress into something very serious, which can at times cause death.


Leptospires are spiral-shaped bacteria that cause leptospirosis. A person who becomes infected with leptospirosis experiences vomiting, muscle pain or myalgia, fever, and severe headache. These are similar to the symptoms of flu. However, those who have recently been exposed to the urine of infected animals should seek medical help immediately as they may have leptospirosis. Other bodily fluids, except saliva, can also transmit the illness to people as long as fluids remain moist. Many animals are hosts of the bacteria, but among the most common carriers are rodents, such as mice, rats, as well as moles. Even though leptospirosis seldom becomes serious, some cases result in death especially when a person develops complications, such as meningitis and renal or kidney problems that can also bring about kidney and liver failure. The disease can be prevented by avoiding handling urine and other fluids that come from animals that are suspected to be infected. People who are planning on going to areas where there are several cases of leptospirosis can also choose to undergo prophylactic or preventive treatment with Doxycycline.

Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM)

The symptoms of LCM, caused by the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, are similar to the signs of meningitis and encephalitis. Early symptoms of the disease include fever, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Once a person recovers from the early symptoms, he will experience sensory disturbances, drowsiness, and also motor malfunctions. Some people may also suffer from hydrocephalus, wherein there is an abnormal collection of fluid in the brain. This often requires surgical intervention so as to shunt the fluid and relieve the pressure in the brain. This may seem scary. However, most people who suffer from hydrocephalus due to LCMV usually recover fully. The disease rarely takes a life but it is still best to be aware. LCM is transmitted through exposure to bodily fluids and excrements of infected animals, like saliva, urine and droppings. Rodents, particularly house mice, are common carriers.

Claire Johnson is a respected mouse breeder. She has extensive knowledge about mouse life cycle and breeding habits, which is why she writes for

November 15, 2013 |

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