Rodents are commonly known for being disease carriers. What many people may not know is how many viral diseases they carry. Not only do rodents carry these diseases but they can spread them to both humans and other animals placing you and your pets at risk. Here are the top 8 viral diseases spread from rodents.
The Hantavirus is the most commonly known of all the viral diseases that rodents carry. It is a family of viruses that are mainly spread through rodents causing various disease syndromes in people throughout the world. Two general types of Hantaviruses exist known as New World and Old World Hantaviruses. New World Hantavirus affects people within the United States and is known to cause Pulmonary Syndrome or HPS. Old World Hantaviruses are typically found in Europe and Asia and are known to cause Hemorrhagic Fever and Renal Syndrome otherwise known as HFRS. Each hantavirus is spread through a specific type of rodent when a human or animal comes into contact with either their urine, feces, saliva, or becomes infected through a bite. Here in the United States, deer mice are the most commonly known carriers of New World Hantaviruses.
This viral disease was first discovered in 1958 through lab monkeys but later found in people in 1970. Though it is named after a monkey, this virus can be found in other animals such as rabbits, mice, and rodents. It’s spread to people through a bite or by touching an infected animal’s body fluids or blood. People can also spread this disease to one another through sneezing or coughing which then produce droplets that are let into the air and then transferred from one person to the next. There is no specific treatment for this disease.
LCM or lymphocytic choriomeningitis is a viral disease that stems from rodents and is caused by the LCM virus which is a member of a family of viruses associated with rodent transmitted diseases to humans. The most common carrier of LCMV is the common house mouse. An estimated 5% of the United States house mouse population is said to carry this viral disease that can be transmitted to humans even if the mice do not show signs of the disease. LCMV is most commonly recognized as a viral disease that attacks the neurological system and in pregnant women has been associated with congenital hydrocephalus, chorioretinitis, and mental retardation.
Arenaviruses are from a family of viruses called Arenaviridae which are typically spread through rodents all throughout the world. To humans, these viruses can cause severe disease and in some areas of the world are more common than others. LCMC was the first arenavirus to be identified in 1933 but since then many have been discovered. This family of viruses is known to cause VHF’s otherwise known as viral hemorrhagic fevers.
South American and Lassa Fever– Lassa fever and South American fever are hemorrhagic fevers caused by arenaviruses that can lead to severe bleeding and organ malfunction resulting in death. Typically symptoms are mild but about 20% of people suffer severe effects. The viruses are spread from rodents to humans when people eat food that is contaminated through the rodent’s urine and feces and can be spread from human to human via bodily fluids.
Ebola– Ebola is classified as a hemorrhagic fever virus because it causes blood clotting issues that lead to internal bleeding. It can also cause severe inflammation and tissue damage. Coming into contact with an infected person can lead to transmission of this virus if there is direct contact with any bodily fluids such as saliva, sweat, tears, mucus, vomit, feces, urine, blood, breastmilk, and semen. It can also be transferred if there is direct contact with something that any of these bodily fluids have come into contact with. Transfer of this virus to people is from wild animals including rodents.
Chapare Hemorrhagic Fever– Spread through direct or indirect contact with an infected rodent can start the spread of this illness from one person to the next. CHHF is a viral hemorrhagic fever caused by infection with the Chapare virus which is part of the arenavirus family. Little is known of this particular virus but of the few cases that have been studied, the outcomes revealed a high risk of death.
Machupo– The Machupo virus results from direct contact with virus particles or contaminated food from an infected field mouse. When urine and fecal matter dry up the virus particles can be stirred into the air if they are disturbed. This particular disease is endemic to parts of Bolivia where mice infestations place humans at greater risk of this disease.
This array of rodent transmitted viruses are just some of the diseases rodents are known to carry. Rodents are also carriers of bacterial diseases that are harmful to humans and their pets. The best way to ensure the safety of your health is to stay on top of your property’s maintenance so that infestations do not occur putting you and your loved ones at risk of disease.