Rodents & Human Diseases

Author: Kurt Treftz, Cascade Pest Control

The Necessity of Rodent Control

While mice and rats can cause serious damage to the structure of your home or business, they are also very dangerous to the health of you and others sharing the infested space. It doesn’t help that rodents nest and feed off of human waste, so the threat is unfortunately never far away.

Fully understanding the threat rodents pose to the health and safety of your home and family allows you to be best prepared to defend against rodents and human diseases. It also shows the necessity for an effective, proactive rodent control plan to ensure that you are not unnecessarily infecting yourself or your loved ones.

Cascade Pest Control has over 40 years of experience working with local families and businesses to provide comprehensive, regular pest and rodent control services in order to minimize the harm rats and mice can cause. Read on to learn more about the specific diseases you can contract from keeping close quarters with rodents.

Signs of Rodents

First, you might be wondering if you have rodents in your space. Two common signs of rodents that you might see without even laying an eye on a critter are droppings and evidence of gnawing.

  • Droppings. Rodent droppings can be found anywhere rodents have been, so they are a good clue that you have rodents, even if you haven’t seen one. Droppings are commonly found in drawers, cabinets, storage areas, and other out-of-sight nooks and crannies. If you aren’t sure how active/recent the droppings are, clean the space and see if the droppings return. Then you know you are dealing with an active infestation.
  • Gnaw evidence. One distinctive characteristic of rodents is their need to chew. Rodents can leave distinctive gnaw marks that are a good sign that you have a problem. They will often be found in the same place as the droppings. Also, check pantries and storage spaces for chewed boxes, tubs, etc.

What Are Common Transmittable Rodent Diseases & Viruses?

The filth and mess that rodents create when nesting in your home can be quite detrimental to your health, especially when combined with their tendency to contaminate open food sources in your pantry. Here are a few of the most common viruses and illnesses that rats and mice can cause in humans:

Hantavirus Syndrome & Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis

These viruses are spread by breathing in dust contaminated with rodent waste, or through direct contact with rodent urine or droppings. So, if a rat or mouse has nested near or in a ventilation system either in your house (or even your car), the air you are breathing could be contaminated with the Hantavirus virus.

The hantavirus has been known to be fatal, so take care to regularly maintain attics, crawl spaces, and access to air ducts in order to ensure no rodent activity is present.

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis, or LCM, is a rodent-borne viral infectious disease caused by lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). Typically, the primary host of LCMV is the common house mouse.

From infected mice, the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus can be transmitted after exposure to mouse urine, droppings, saliva, or nesting materials. Like many viruses, the LCMV can be introduced to humans through the nose, eyes, mouth, or broken skin.

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis is not fatal, but based on its severity, may require hospitalization, in addition to supportive treatments.


This disease is contracted by eating or drinking something contaminated with rodent urine. Leptospirosis can also be spread if it enters the body via an open cut or gets in your eyes or nose. Rats and mice that have access to your kitchen and uncontained food sources could pose this threat if not monitored.

Rodents come into contact with a multitude of bacteria in their own scavenging, so don’t leave the cleanliness of your pantry to chance: make sure open food containers are properly stored and sealed, and take note of any gnawing or debris that might signal rodent presence.

Rat-Bite Fever

As the name implies, this disease is contracted from a bite or scratch wound from an infected rodent. It can also be spread by contact with a dead rodent or consuming food or water contaminated with their waste.

While this is contingent on the rat or mouse in question being contaminated, it is not always possible to catch the specific rodent in question to test them in order to confirm this or not. So, seeing as the symptoms can be fatal, it is better to err on the side of caution if you have been bitten and see your healthcare provider. Even better, implementing a regular, professional, and preventative rodent control program for your space eliminates nearly all risk of putting yourself in the situation to be bitten or contaminated by a rodent.

Indirectly Transmitted Diseases

Rats and mice are known to carry a variety of mites, ticks, and fleas with them wherever they go. These insects pose numerous other risks to your health, from Lyme disease to strains of typhus. Allowing rodents near or around the interior of your home is, in this respect, dangerous on a myriad of levels. Not only can they threaten your health, but the parasites they bring with them can do so as well. The safest and most effective, long-term solution to protecting both the structure and cleanliness of your space is to reach out to a professional pest and rodent control company.

What can you do?

A good offense is the best defense! Do you best to reduce attractions and strengthen barriers to prevent an infestation in the first place. Practice these three tips

  • Seal it. Make sure to close any gaps – even ones as small as a pencil diameter. Check under sinks, kitchen cabinets, and appliances. Check floor areas, especial the corners. Fireplaces, windows, doors, vents, pipes, utility lines, and even drains should be checked. Anything that has access to the outside of your home should be monitored. Also, keep an eye on attics and basements/crawl spaces. You should also seal food containers, pet dishes, etc that might attract unwanted guests. 
  • Trap it. If you do see signs of rodents, set a trap or bait. You might be able to catch the critter before things get out of hand. Rats can be very skittish about new things so set out a few traps and pre-baiting them can lull them into complacency before you make them live. Set traps where you see evidence of droppings or gnaw marks and along walls as rodents avoid open spaces. 
  • Clean it. Keep your home clean. Pay particular attention to the kitchen. Regularly flush / clean the sink drain. Make sure filters are cleaned and/or replaced. Sweep and mop floors. Every little bit can help to prevent the rodents from being attracted to your home or business in the first place.

Cascade is happy to help! Call 888-989-8979 or request a quote and get started with our services!

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