Not So Cute and Cuddly: Diseases You Can Contract from Rodents

The thought of a rodent infestation in your home is not pleasant, but many people experience problems with rodents at some point. Besides the damage they can cause, rodents can also be responsible for transmitting a whole host of nasty diseases. Here are some of the ones to look out for, as well as some tips on getting rid of rodents in your home.

Not So Cute and Cuddly Diseases You Can Catch from Rodents

How do Rodents Spread Diseases?

If rodents are present in your home, they can spread diseases in a number of ways. Perhaps the most common way is when they infect food and water with their urine and droppings, transmitting diseases when you consume the food.

However, they can also spread diseases by biting and through dry droppings being carried in the air. Diseases can also be passed on indirectly by mites and pets.

So what are some of the diseases they spread?

Rat-Bite Fever

This is a very dangerous disease, and it can be fatal when left untreated. As the name suggests, it is often spread by rats, but mice can also spread it. The bacterium enters the body following a bite or scratch, or from contaminated food. Handling a rodent can also lead to infection, and the symptoms include fever, vomiting, and aching.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)

This is often fatal. It is spread by various mice and rat species, and the virus occurs throughout the country. It is spread mainly through direct contact and through being bitten, but you can also get it through breathing in dust that has dry droppings or urine.


Leptospirosis is a bacteria spread by rats and mice. It is spread through urine that has infected food and water, as well as through skin contact with contaminated water or soil. Symptoms include high fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and jaundice.


One of the most well-known diseases, plague was responsible for the Black Death in Europe. It is a bacteria that is actually transmitted by fleas that feed on rodents, or through handling an infected rodent. There are different types, with bubonic plague being the most well-known. Symptoms include high fever and swollen lymph nodes. It is mainly spread by rats, but mice can also carry it, and it can be fatal.

Get Rid of Rodents in Your Home

You can see a detailed list of the main diseases spread by rodents at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, which include the above and more including tularemia, salmonella, and tapeworms. Essentially, if you have rodents in your home, these diseases are a risk to you and your family.

While many DIY solutions exist, such as traps and poison, the best way to get rid of rodents is to hire an experienced exterminator, such as A professional will seek out the problem and get rid of it completely so you won’t have to worry about rodents or their diseases any more.

Look Out for Signs of Infestation

Rodent diseases can be very serious, so make sure you look out for signs of rodents in your home and act as soon as you see any. Droppings, gnaw marks, and other damage around the home could indicate an infestation, so act quickly and keep your family safe.

Robert Kunst knows about pest control. President of Fischer Environmental Services and past president of 3 other associations. He has worked in this industry since 1974.

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