What Diseases Do Rats and Mice Carry?
What Diseases Do Rats and Mice Carry?

Rats and mice may be common cartoon characters, but in real life they’re no laughing matter. These rodents are carriers of several diseases causing serious illnesses that can even lead to death.

Here are some of the more common diseases transmitted by rodents, either directly or indirectly.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)

• HPS is a respiratory disease that has a mortality rate of 38 percent. Initial symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches. Within days of the onset, a patient will experience coughing and shortness of breath as the lungs fill with fluid.

• At present there is no specific cure for HPS. Early detection and treatment are vital for successful recovery.


• Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection spread through contact between skin or mucous membranes and soil or water contaminated with urine.

• Symptoms can occur up to four weeks after exposure. The first phase includes fever, vomiting and headaches. Some patients experience a more severe second phase after a brief recovery period.

Rat-Bite Fever (RBF)

• RBF is another bacterial infection that occurs after contact with an infected rodent, either living or dead. Symptoms of streptobacillary RBF, which is the form found in North America, begin three days to three weeks after exposure.

• Within two to four days of onset, patients develop a characteristic rash along with joint pain.

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