4 Diseases Caused by Rodent Droppings

Rodents are made up of a group of furry, warm-blooded animals including rats and mice. Australia has species of native rats but also several introduced, or feral rodents that are classed as pests that infest homes, warehouses and shops and they are:

  • Ground rats, also called Norway rats
  • Roof rats, also called climbing or black rats
  • House mice, also known as the field mouse

Rodents carry a broad range of bacteria, viruses, and parasites including worms and protozoa which can be passed on to humans and other animals causing severe diseases. These rodents are carriers and repositories for many diseases transferred to humans via bites from their fleas, mites, lice, ticks and also mosquitoes – these are called ectoparasites.

It is crucial for the health and wellbeing of you and your family to have your home – and businesses premises – inspected and treated for rodent infestations regularly by a pest exterminator from Pest Control Services. 

The following four diseases are carried and transmitted by rodents in Australia:

  • Murine typhus fever
  • Rat-bite fever
  • Leptospirosis/Weil’s disease 
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis

1. Murine Typhus Fever

The fleas that infest rats and mice transmit Rickettsia typhi, which is the bacteria that causes Murine Typhus Fever. Cat and mouse fleas can also transmit the bacteria via bites to humans, but this route is not as common as through rat fleas. 

Humans are infected when they are bitten by a flea that passes on faecal contamination with bites. Murine typhus is under-recognised because the symptoms (muscle and joint pain headache, vomiting, nausea, fever and headache) are similar to many viral illnesses. 

Six days after the onset of Murine Typhus Fever, 50 per cent of patients show a discrete rash and up to 45 per cent will develop neurological symptoms such as stupor, confusion, imbalance and seizures. This disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics, and most people recover fully. However, death can result in people with an immune deficiency, the elderly, and the severely disabled. 

2. Rat Bite Fever/Relapsing Fever

The bacteria (Spirillum Minus or Streptobacillus Moniliformis) causes Rat bite or Relapsing Fever and it’s passed on to humans mainly through a rat bite. This is a rare disease which can also be transmitted via water or food contaminated with rat urine or faeces. 

Household pets exposed to infected rats can also carry the disease and transmit it to humans.  The symptoms usually include the open sore being inflamed, ulcers on the feet and hands and a red or purple rash around the bite. 

The streptobacillary strain causes chills, fever, vomiting, headaches, swollen joints, back pain, and muscle aches, and if untreated it can be fatal in 20 per cent of cases. The distinctive symptoms associated with spirillary strain include an inflamed or swollen neck, groin and underarm lymph nodes.

3. Leptospirosis (Weil’s disease/Infectious Jaundice) 

Leptospirosis is caused by the Leptospira bacteria transmitted from rats to humans. It can survive for many years in the kidneys of an infected animal which releases it via their urine and droppings into the soil, vegetation, mud and water. 

Humans can inhale the bacteria or if they have scratches or a cut on the skin they can become infected through direct contact with a contaminated area or with the tissues or bodily fluids of an infected animal. 

The bacteria causes flu-like symptoms such as chills, fever, nausea, diarrhoea, headache vomiting, and loss of appetite, muscle and joint pain especially in the lower legs and back, fatigue, and conjunctivitis. 

Most people recover after antibiotics, but some go on to a secondary infection called Weil’s disease with symptoms like skin rashes, diarrhoea, abdominal and muscle pain, and also jaundice.

4. Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis

The Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis virus is found in mice, and if humans come into direct contact with the faeces or urine of an infected mouse, the virus can be passed on. Mice can contaminate utensils, cutlery and crockery and surfaces where people prepare food when they run across urinating or dropping faeces. A disease is a mild form of meningitis, and it is endemic in Australia. 

 The symptoms can range from nausea and headache, fever, vomiting, and general malaise with stiffness in the neck, joint and muscle aches, inability to cope with bright lights, confusion and drowsiness. There can also be a sore throat, rash, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.  Seek medical advice and treatment if you have these symptoms which are similar to the more deadly bacterial meningitis. 

If you have a problem with an infestation of any kind of rodent in or around your home or yard, company office, or other business premises, it’s highly recommended to seek out the professional services of a pest control company.