Learn More about Mice

The Dangers of Rodent-Transmitted Diseases

mice in grass
Written by John Wells

Contents

Rodents, most commonly mice and rats, are disease carriers. They aren’t some cuddly creatures that your children can play with, even though they look the part. Knowing the risks that come with a mice infestation is imperative to maintaining your health and way of life. If the mice do manage to come along and infest your home, things will change for some time (until you deal with them). It’s always better to prevent an infestation, than having to deal with one.

What people often don’t realize is just how easy it is for you to get sick. Most people think that not coming into direct contact with an infected rodent is enough to protect yourself, but it really isn’t. On the contrary, it’s very easy to contract a deadly disease if you have an infestation on your hands. The reason for this is that most of these diseases are transmitted through mice urine, feces or contact. You can even get sick by inhaling dust particles which contain small traces of mice feces.

It’s not a surprise that people think avoiding contact is enough. After all, most diseases on this planet are transmitted through direct contact, so it’s understandable where such an opinion is coming from. However, the truth is completely different, and you shouldn’t allow yourself to sit around doing nothing whilst the mice are running amok in your home. Think of your children or pets – they are defenseless creatures that don’t know what’s good or bad for them, so it’s your job to keep them safe. No one wants to have to take loved ones to the hospital (or vet) in the case of a sickness such as Leptospirosis, Salmonellosis, and others that mice can carry.

You should promptly react at the first sign of trouble; if you see even a single mouse somewhere in your home, start searching intensively. Where there’s a single mouse, there’s bound to be many more. Besides, mice aren’t only disease carriers; they can cause damage to your house in ways you don’t expect. They chew on wires, wood, insulation… Anything really! And we all know what happens when there’s exposed wiring next to insulation or wood… That’s right, mice can even cause a fire.

And if that wasn’t reason enough, they love peeing on your food (and defecating near it as well). You would be surprised just how many times people have found mice droppings or urine in their fridges.

Rodent-transmitted diseases are no joke and shouldn’t be taken lightly. In this article, we will cover some of the most deadly diseases that rodents carry. This should bring you closer to the prospect of getting sick, thus preparing you for what might happen if a mice infestation is left alone for any amount of time. The key here is timing and swiftness. Also, keep in mind that prevention is a much better choice than extermination. If you manage to prevent them from coming in the first place, no one will be exposed to these potentially deadly diseases.

Firstly, we will start by providing you with a table of all the possible diseases which you can get from mice and other rodents. It’s important that you get up close and personal with each of these diseases because you have to know all of the risks here. After that, you’ll be able to learn even more about each specific disease, which is also important in understanding why mice are such a threat to both humans and animals (mainly pets). Let’s get started!

Name/Information Carrier Transmission Symptoms
Lyme Disease All rodents Tick Bite Headaches, Fever, Skin Lesions, Arthralgia
Salmonellosis Mice, Rats Rodent Feces Intestinal Disorders
Rat-Bite Fever Mice, Rats Bacteria in Mouth and Nose (Scratch/Bite) Long-Lasting Relapsing Fever (Can last for many months)
Hantavirus Rodents (commonly Deer Mice) Urine, Feces, Other Bodily Fluids Respiratory Damage, Renal Failure, Symptoms similar to Flu
Typhus Mice, Rats Flea Bite Headache, Rash, Fever, Respiratory Damage
Plague Rodents Flea Bite or Contact with Infected Animal Circulatory & Respiratory Damage
Pox House Mouse Mite Bite Lesions, Rash, Fever, Headache

You know have all the basic information necessary to understand the possible danger these rodents pose. This should help you figure out how to react in the case of a mice infestation. You should always have a couple of traps ready for use. You never know when they might arrive. It’s also worth noting that, even though prevention is the better option, it doesn’t always work, especially if you are in a high-risk area. Sometimes, these rodents are on the edge of survival, and they won’t stop at anything to reach food, shelter, and water. So if your house ends up on their to-do list, you’ll have to be prepared and ready. Now, let’s go into more depth regarding some of these diseases, mostly the ones which are prevalent in mice species and the ones you are usually most exposed to.

Salmonellosis

salmonellaThis is a relatively well-known disease that has gained such status thanks to various outbreaks that happened in the past. However, it is easily avoidable. For example, you can contract Salmonellosis (or Salmonella as it’s better known) by ingesting raw eggs which contain the bacterium. All you have to do to completely lower the chances of contracting it is to fry the eggs or boil them. You can only get Salmonella from raw eggs. The same formula is applied to meat; always cook your meat properly.

Unfortunately, when it comes to mice, it isn’t so simple. Salmonellosis gets transferred through rat or mice droppings, which you oftentimes won’t even notice in your food or around your home. Their droppings are very small in size; only about ¾ of an inch in length and ¼ of an inch thick. The World Health Organization has released the following information: around 20% of the food worldwide is wasted thanks to it being infected with rodent droppings. That is a staggeringly high number.

Salmonella is not a pleasant disease and you should start working on getting rid of the mice the moment you see one in your home. Do not let them infect you or your loved ones and minimize the potential for them to leave droppings near your food by sealing it shut.

Plague

You probably didn’t know this but the Plague is still active today! There have been a couple of cases in the United States in the past few years where they have been minor outbreaks of the Plague, but it was luckily contained. Once a devastating, fearsome disease that almost wiped out the entire human population in Europe back in the Dark Ages, has now become a shell of its former self. However, it hasn’t stopped completely and you still have the chance of contracting it through direct contact with an infested (or dead) animal, or through a flea bite.

And even though you might think that the chances of that happening are low, it is still possible. You can wear gloves and dispose of dead mice that way (as it’s recommended to minimize any potential health risks), but you can’t avoid a flea bite as they are very small. It’s best if you either completely isolate your body from such intruders, or leave the removal process to the professionals.

If the infestation gets large enough, we recommend contacting the exterminators as they are much more qualified to deal with such a problem in a healthy and efficient way than ordinary people. Of course, if you notice that the infestation isn’t that large, then it’s better to deal with it yourself because you will save a lot more money, plus you’ll gain experience in this area.

Rickettsia pox (Pox for short)

There has been an outbreak of this disease back in 1946 where people in New York City couldn’t contain the spread of mice infested with mites carrying the disease. From 1947 to 1951, there have been a reported 500 cases of this disease. This disease is pretty dangerous due to it being transmitted by house mice; your usual suspects in home invasions.

It might not be infamous as the Plague or Lyme Disease, but it’s nonetheless frightening and dangerous.

Lyme Disease

tick lyme disease

Lyme Disease is the most common form of tick-transmitted disease. You might know about it from stories that your parents and grandparents told you. All you could hear during the hotter months from parents was, “Don’t play in the tall grass”. And they said this for good reason; after all, ticks love living in lush areas where they can latch onto anything that comes close.

Lyme disease is pretty dangerous – fevers and headaches are common. Skin lesions are even more difficult to live with. All in all, this disease won’t be eradicated any time soon and currently, you can only get better if you react quickly. If Lyme Disease is left untreated, then it’s going to be a very, very tough ride.

This disease isn’t only dangerous to humans either; your pets might get infected as well. Treating Lyme Disease in pets is difficult. Dogs are much more exposed to the disease than cats, and some can even develop kidney issues that may lead to death.

Hantavirus

The only disease on our list which can get transmitted through mice urine, Hantavirus is a scary disease that has a couple of ‘milestones’ in history. An outbreak of Hantavirus in 1994 killed 50 people in over 15 US states. The real danger lies in how Hantavirus is like. Scientists have identified around 7 unique strain of Hantavirus during this outbreak.

It’s also tough identifying if the food in your fridge is infected due to the nature of this disease. Thanks to it being transmitted through mice urine, you won’t have an easy time figuring that out. It isn’t limited to urine either; rodent feces and other bodily fluids can also contain this disease. When you think about it, if you handle mice corpses with improper care (with no protection), there’s a chance you might get infected with the Plague and Hantavirus (rodent corpses secrete various bodily fluids do to decomposition).

Typhus

A fairly infamous disease which causes respiratory damage and failure, Typhus has been around for a very long time. You wouldn’t normally think about mice carrying this disease since it’s transmitted through flea bites (fleas are more often associated with dogs and other animals). However, it’s true. In fact, rodents are much more common carriers of this disease than other animals.

Typhus is mostly prevalent in mice and rats that live in port cities or near rivers, so if you live in these areas, it’d be wise to do your best to prevent an infestation from happening.

Prevention

There are a couple of ways with which you can stop a mice infestation. Most of these methods don’t include anything special or too expensive, plus, they don’t require any specific or professional skills. They do, however, require some knowledge about mice, their habits, and their way of life. With this info, you’ll be able to maximize the efficiency of all the prevention methods, and even traps.

Firstly, check out peppermint oil. Peppermint oil is a cheap way of pushing the mice away from your home. The reason behind this is that peppermint has a pungent, uncomfortable scent (at least to the mice). If they sense it, they won’t hesitate to leave the area. Keep in mind that this method only works if there’s no infestation at play. If there is, it won’t do anything and you’ll just be wasting your time. Use cotton balls to prolong the effectiveness of peppermint oil. Drip a couple of drops on some cotton balls and place them around your home in strategic locations. These include tight, dark corners, near your doors, windows, etc.

Secondly, you could use some commercial repellents as well. There are some great products such as rodent repelling sprays. You use them similarly to peppermint oil; simply spray some of the product in critical areas.

Lastly, use a small number of traps. Traps, even though not necessary in the absence of an infestation, will provide a small, yet effective first line of defense. If, for any reason, the mice don’t care about your repellents, the traps will force them away.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article will help you completely understand why these disease-carrying rodents are a threat to your well-being. Treating these diseases is painful and sometimes ineffective, and almost all of them can lead to a fatal outcome. Your best bet is to help yourself avoid contact with these rodents altogether, but if it can’t be avoided, do your best to quickly, and efficiently, get rid of the mice.

About the author

John Wells

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