Mouse-Borne Diseases That Might Be Present In Your Home

Do you know how many diseases are transmitted DIRECTLY from mice? There are a whole bunch of them, and the number will increase or decrease depending on the area of the United States — or part of the world — in which you live.

According to the CDC, there are 11 diseases that are directly transmitted by rodents, but not all of them can be transmitted by mice, or all species of mice.


Hantavirus, for example, is a very serious virus that can have dramatic effects on the respiratory system and other body systems. This is not spread by the typical house mouse — the kind that many places in the city might get in their homes. Instead, it is spread by different, more rural species, such as the rice and cotton rats, and also the white-footed mouse and deer mouse. Those are the only four species of rodent in the USA considered to be capable of transmitting Hantavirus and going on to cause Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome.

That's not all mice are known for, sadly, although Hantavirus alone can be found in most places in both South and North America. You can add Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome to the list — another ‘type' of Hantavirus that is quite common in places such as Western Europe, Korea and other parts of Eastern Asia, Scandinavia, and even Russia. Thankfully, this doesn't appear to be a big threat or a common concern in the USA. Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is that one to look out for there.

Lassa Fever

Lassa Fever is another disease that Americans thankfully don't need to worry about too much, although it does have endemic status in certain places, such as Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the surrounding countries. The Americas aren't a native home for the rodent that has shown to be the natural host of the virus that causes Lassa virus — the African soft-furred rat, also known as the African rat, or Natal multimammate mouse or rat. These rats do tend to hang around highly populated human areas, so if you're planning on going on a tropical/hot vacation to places such as Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Republic of Congo, Cameroon, etc., you'll want to be especially careful you're not bringing back a potentially deadly bug.

Other Diseases

It might make you feel a little safer to learn that many of the rodent-borne diseases that prove to be the deadliest are usually contained to places such as Africa and Asia. You'll only find Omsk Hemorrhagic Fever in places such as Western Siberia, another rodent-borne virus, but this time with certain species of voles, and muskrats. The plague, this time caused by bacteria spread by rats or fleas that have bitten infected rats, is still present in some places of Africa, Asia, South America, and even western chunks of the United States. There are also various "arenaviruses" in various parts of South America, that can cause different strains/types of hemorrhagic fever.

At the same time, however, there are a number of diseases in North America, spread by rats, mice and other rodents, that ARE potentially deadly. These included things such as leptospirosis — a bacterial-borne disease that can be spread as easily as drinking unknown-contaminated water; salmonellosis — another bacteria that can wreak havoc on the entire family; and rat-bite fever — a bacteria that was once considered local to rats, but has now been shown to have the potential for mouse transmission.

And the important thing that we need to remember about all of these diseases is that they have the potential to move from place to place very easily and quickly, as shown by recent hantavirus scares around the globe. At the same time, these diseases mutate. Scientists are now discovering more diseases that are "zoonotic" — can be spread from animals to humans, and many of them seem to stem from the humble rodent.

If that's not a good reason to totally eradicate a rodent infestation in your home, we don't know what is!

Go back to the home page.