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Rodents and Their Health Risks

Rodent health risks

Cold and flu season continues to look a little different than what we’re used to, but the winter months still bring around bouts of sniffles, coughs and sore throats. Keeping warm is important when you’re sick and unfortunately, when the temperatures are low, there might be something else trying to come inside to warm up with you. We’re talking about rodents and particularly the diseases they bring with them. Along with the regular winter illnesses, what health risks do rodents who are coming inside for the winter pose to you and your family?

Mice, squirrels, voles, shrews and other small critters will attempt to migrate indoors when the snow and ice close in. With these rodent invaders, certain diseases come with them. Rodent feces attracts bacteria, taints food storage and can cause serious damage to our lungs if we breathe in the viruses and bacteria associated with rodents. Here are a few you should know about. 


Hantavirus, or Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, is a dangerous virus that can cause respiratory, kidney and blood complications in humans due to exposure to urine and droppings of mice, particularly deer mice. An individual wouldn’t typically catch a virus like this from just a single mouse invader, this would be the result of exposure to an infestation of the home or workplace. Hantavirus cases can sometimes come from workers or families cleaning out old, unused barns as mice love barns and old structures and will quickly take over if left to their own devices. The symptoms of Hantavirus, which are fever, fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, chills, and in severe cases vomiting and diarrhea, usually show up between one to five weeks from the exposure of waste from an infected rodent. Late stages of the illness include shortness of breath that can develop into respiratory distress or even failure. Hantavirus is dangerous, can sometimes be fatal and should be taken seriously. 


Tularemia is a bacteria that affects both animals and humans, however, rodents are especially susceptible, often dying in large numbers when faced with an outbreak. The symptoms of Tularemia differ depending on how the person comes into contact with the bacteria, but all exposure comes with a high fever that can reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It can be fatal if not treated, but typically a rigorous round of antibiotics will fix the infection. Humans can catch this bacteria by consuming contaminated water, inhaling the aerosols and dusts, from deer fly or tick bites or from skin contact with an infected animal.


A bacterial infection of the intestines is caused by a group of bacteria called Salmonella, this illness is a kind of food poisoning passed from rodents to humans through the contamination of foods and coming into contact with infected feces. A person that contracts Salmonella will show symptoms such as abdominal pain, soft stool, and fever.

Rodents might look cute and sweet, but they bring with them a range of dangerous diseases that can cause real illness for us and our families. These are just a few of the diseases to watch for and it’s never a bad idea to familiarize yourself with what other diseases rodents can bring with them. Schedule a pest inspection with us today to give you peace of mind against the health risks that an infestation of rodents would pose!