Can Mice Carry Diseases That Affect Humans?

August 18, 2021

Rats and mice are the most common household pests. These rodents invade homes looking for food or a nice place to inhabit. There is much concern about the embarrassment and damages these furry pests are famous for, but you should be more worried about the health problems caused by mice infestation and the rats infesting your home. Mice and rats are linked to over 35 diseases. The diseases are transmitted to humans by directly handling a rat or mouse (dead or alive), touching their urine or faeces, or getting bitten by them. Additionally, transmission happens through other pests like mites, fleas, and ticks that feed on infected rodents.

What Diseases Do Mice Carry?

Below are the most common diseases mice carry as well as rats:

1. Hantavirus

Hantavirus is a group of viruses that causes diseases of the blood, kidney, and respiratory system. Rats and white-footed mice commonly cause it. You can get infected by the virus by contacting the urine, nesting materials, and fresh droppings of a rat or mouse. Getting bitten may also expose you to this harmful virus.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms associated with Hantavirus show up within two to five weeks after getting exposed to the saliva, faeces, and urine of infected rodents. If not checked and treated, the problem can escalate to the fatal Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. Some early signs of Hantavirus infection include fever, fatigue, muscle aches, and painful back, thighs, and hips. Also, watch out for abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhoea. Late symptoms of the infection are shortness of breath, coughing, and severe respiratory distress.

2. Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM)

Another disease caused by rats and mice is Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM), resulting from the Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV). If you have a pet rat or mouse, you are more likely to get ill from this virus. Transmission occurs when you get exposed to the saliva, fresh urine, nesting materials, and droppings of an infected rodent through touch or inhalation. A bite also increases your risk of exposure to the virus. More infections are reported during the cold months when rodents seek refuge in homes. 

Signs and Symptoms

Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis features two phases. The first phase is marked by symptoms like loss of appetite, malaise, fever, vomiting, headache, nausea, and muscle aches. Other symptoms include chest pain, sore throat, salivary gland pain, testicular pain, joint pain, and coughing. The second phase is characterised by more severe symptoms such as inflammation of the meninges and brain, sensory disturbances, confusion, stiff neck, extreme fever, and motor abnormalities. Worth noting is that if a pregnant woman gets infected, they can transmit the disease to the foetus.

3. Plague

Plague is the most prevalent disease caused by mice and rats. It is instigated by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. You can get the disease by handling an infected rat or mouse or from a flea bite. A bite from a plague-infected flea is the primary cause of plague in humans. Therefore, watch your cat or dog as they can bring disease-ridden fleas into your house.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Bubonic Plague – Common symptoms include chills and headaches. Buboes (tender, inflamed, and painful lymph nodes) also appear near the area where the bacteria entered your body. These signs manifest three to seven days after exposure. Bubonic plague transmission is caused by contacting infected rodent fluid or tissue.
  • Septicemic Plague – Septicemic plague occurs as the first sign of plague or due to untreated bubonic plague. It is characterised by extreme weakness, chills, fever, septic shock, and abdominal pain.
  • Pneumonic Plague – Symptoms include fever, weakness, headache, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Pneumonic plague is the most common and dangerous type of plague as it can cause respiratory shock or failure. Moreover, it can be transmitted from person to person by inhaling respiratory droplets containing bacteria.

4. Rat-Bite Fever

Rat-bite fever is a disease caused by bacteria transmitted by rodents. You can get infected when scratched or bitten by a rat or mouse. Most bites result in infection, so you need to be vigilant. Symptoms include muscle pain, vomiting, fever, joint swelling, rash, and headache.

5. Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is triggered by bacteria known as Leptospira carried by several rodents and passed to humans through infected urine. Water and soil that have been urinated on are the primary causes of infection. Signs of Leptospirosis include muscle aches, chills, high fever, abdominal pain, red eyes, vomiting, jaundice, and headache.

6. Monkeypox

Monkeypox is another virus mice and rats carry. You get infected with the virus if bitten or when you handle the body fluids of these pests. Note that the virus can also be transmitted from person to person through breathing in respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing. Symptoms take between seven to fourteen days to show. Initial signs include backache, fever, chills, muscle aches, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes.

Mice And Rat Faeces Dangers

Accumulation of rat and mice faeces in your residence can lead to contamination of food and the spread of disease-causing bacteria. When rodent faeces dry up, they crumble easily, forming airborne dust. Inhaling the dust is hazardous as it causes allergic reactions. Besides, the faeces contain viruses that may result in illness.

How To Prevent Diseases From Rats And Mice

The best way to stay safe and healthy is by ensuring that your home is free of disease-bearing rodents. And here is what you can do to achieve that:

  • Seal All Potential Entryways – Check your home for cracks and holes that act as possible entry points for mice and rats. Seal small holes and repair the large ones to prevent such rodents from coming inside.
  • Trap Rats and Mice – Trapping is an effective solution to rat and mice infestation. With strategic placement, a baited trap will successfully catch the rodents giving you a hard time. Contact a mice control service for specific rodent trapping techniques.
  • Clean and Disinfect your Home – Always keep your home spotless and sanitised to eliminate contaminants left behind by rats and mice, including urine, faeces, and nests. These contaminants carry viruses and bacteria that could cause health problems.

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