Let’s Get Real About Rodents

17lmkyj2gut49jpgWe keep talking about the warmer weather and the potential pests that are coming our way. But in these transition months between the dead of winter and the dog days of summer, we have some present pests that are still dying to get into our homes even though we are itching to get out. Rodents are attracted to structures for warmth and food during the colder months and continue to be a problem long after.


It’s true that nobody wants to share their home with a rodent or worse, a family of rodents (who after 30 days of age can reproduce a litter of 5-6 young) but what a lot of people aren’t aware of are the health hazards these pests pose. When it comes to rodents, there are more than 35 diseases they are known to spread. The spread of these diseases can reach humans directly from contact with rodent urine, saliva and feces, through bites, and  through handling them alive or dead. Indirectly, they can be spread through mites, fleas, and ticks that have fed on an infected rodent. Allergies and  airborne illnesses like salmonella can be caused by droppings alone. To put it in perspective: one rodent can excrete up to seventy times a day…

I know, not something any of us want to think about. But the truth is, 21 million homes are invaded every year by these vermin and their welcome sign can be as small as a nickel.

Have a rodent issue and this it’s not a big deal? Think again…

Some of the most common and dangerous diseases rodents carry include tularemia, plague, hantavirus, and lymphocytic choriomenigitis.


Tularemia is a disease of animals and humans caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Rabbits, hares, and other rodents are especially susceptible and often die in large numbers during outbreaks. Humans can become infected through several routes, including tick and deer fly bites; skin contact with infected animals; ingestion of contaminated water; and through laboratory exposure or inhalation of contaminated dusts or aerosols.

The signs and symptoms of tularemia vary depending on how the bacteria enters the body. All forms are accompanied by fever, which can be as high as 104 °F. Although tularemia can be life-threatening, most infections can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

The most serious form of tularemia is oneumonic infection. Symptoms include cough, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. This form results from breathing dusts or aerosols containing the organism. It can also occur when other forms of tularemia (e.g. ulceroglandular) are left untreated and the bacteria spread through the bloodstream to the lungs.


Plague is infamous for killing millions of people in Europe during the Middle Ages. It is a disease that affects humans and other mammals and is caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis. Humans usually get plague after being bitten by an infected rodent flea or by handling an animal infected with plague.

Plague bacteria are most often transmitted by the bite of an infected flea. If an infected rodent dies, hungry fleas will seek other sources of blood – including humans., although dogs and cats may also bring plague-infected fleas into the home. Flea bite exposure typically results in bubonic plague.

Pneumonic plague typically develops after a person breathes inbacteria-containing droplets. Patients develop fever, headache, weakness, and a rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough. The pneumonia may cause respiratory failure and shock. Pneumonic plague is the most serious form of the disease and is the only form of plague that can be spread from person to person

Plague is a very serious illness, but is treatable with commonly available antibiotics. However, without prompt treatment, the disease can cause serious illness or death. The earlier a patient seeks medical care and receives treatment that is appropriate for plague, the better his or her chances are for a full recovery. Close contacts of patients with pneumonic plague may need to be evaluated and possibly treated as well.


People become infected with Hantavirus through several routes, but rodent infestation in and around the home remains the primary risk. The virus is mainly transmitted to people when fresh rodent urine, droppings, or nesting materials are stirred up, become airborne and are breathed in by people. In addition, if an infected rodent bites someone, the virus may be spread to that person. Researchers also suspect people can become sick if they eat food contaminated by urine, droppings, or saliva from an infected rodent.

Typically, symptoms of Hantavirus develop between one and five weeks after exposure to fresh urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents. Infection with Hantavirus can progress to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), a severe respiratory disease which can be fatal. Early symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches in the thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders. The infected person may also experience headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal complaints, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Four to ten days after the initial phase of illness, the late symptoms of Hantavirus infection develop and HPS may appear. These include coughing and shortness of breath and progression to respiratory distress and failure. HPS has a mortality rate of 38 percent.


Lymphocytic choriomeningitis, or LCM, is a rodent-borne viral infectious disease caused by lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). The primary host of LCMV is the common house mouse. It is estimated that 5 percent of house mice throughout the United States carry LCMV and are able to transmit the virus.

Transmission of LCMV infections can occur after exposure to fresh urine, droppings, saliva, or nesting materials from infected rodents. Infections are more common in the colder months when mice enter homes seeking warmer winter habitats. Transmission may also occur when these materials are directly introduced into broken skin, the nose, the eyes, or the mouth – or  presumably, via the bite of an infected rodent. Person-to-person transmission has not been reported, with the exception of vertical transmission from infected mother to fetus, and rarely, through organ transplantation.

Most patients who develop neurological disease due to LCMV survive. However, as in all infections of the central nervous system, particularly encephalitis, temporary or permanent neurological damage is possible.

Women who become infected with LCM during pregnancy may pass the infection on to the fetus. Infections occurring during the first trimester may result in fetal death and pregnancy termination. Infections in the second and third trimesters may result in serious and permanent birth defects, including vision problems, mental retardation, and hydrocephaly (water on the brain).

SeitzBuilding copyThe good news? Pest management professionals, like Seitz Brothers, are qualified to treat and remove rodents and their diseases your home. If you’re having an issue, don’t wait for the problem to get worse, call us today for a free estimate 888-467-1008.


Reference: pestworld.org