Rats and Mice Spread Disease

Rat and Mouse Dangers

Deer mouse
  Kitchin and Hurst / Getty Images 

Did you know...mice and rats can invade homes throughout the year, cause extensive damage, and be unsafe for your family's health by causing illness through disease transmission. Some of the diseases rats or mice carry that can be spread to people (as listed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention) include:

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome

The deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), cotton rat (Sigmodon Hispidus), rice rat (Oryzomys palustris), and white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) all can carry and spread Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (also called HPS or simply, Hantavirus). These mice are all found throughout most of North and South America,

You can get HPS through:

  • Breathing in dust that is contaminated with rodent urine or feces.
  • Touching infected rodents or their urine and feces.
  • Getting bitten by an infected mouse or rat.


Leptospirosis is a bacteria passed by rodents and other animals around the world.

People can be infected with this disease by:

  • Eating food or drinking water contaminated with urine from infected animals.
  • Touching the skin or mucous membranes (such as inside the nose) with water or soil that has been contaminated with the urine of infected animals

Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM)

The LCM virus is carried and transmitted by the common house mouse. (Mus musculus) and may occur anywhere around the world.

You can get Lymphocytic by

  • Breathing in dust that is contaminated with rodent urine or feces.
  • Touching a diseased rat or mouse or its urine and feces.

More information is available at Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis


Although plague is usually associated more with historic incidents or underdeveloped countries, it can be spread to people today by wild rodents of the Western U.S., including rock squirrels, prairie dogs, wood rats, fox squirrels and other species of ground squirrels and chipmunks.

The disease bacteria is contracted through:

  • Touching an infected animal.
  • Being bitten by an infected flea.

More information is available at Plague

Rat-Bite Fever

Rats and mice can both carry and spread the Rat-bite fever bacteria. While it can occur worldwide, the strain most commonly found in North America and Europe is Streptobacillus moniliformis.

You can get the rat-bite fever from:

  • Being bitten or scratched by an infected rodent, or touching a dead rodent
  • Eating or drinking food or water that is contaminated by rat feces.


Salmonellosis is a very common foodborne disease in the U.S. and around the world. Rats and mice can contaminate our food or water with Salmonella bacteria, then humans eating that food or drinking the water can cause salmonellosis food poisoning. 

More information is available at Salmonellosis


Tularemia is a disease that is caused by bacteria carried and spread by wild rodents around the world, including muskrats, ground squirrels, and beavers.

The disease is spread if you:

  • Handle infected animal carcasses.
  • Are bitten by an infected tick, deerfly, or other insects.
  • Eat or drink contaminated food or water.
  • Breath in the bacteria, F. tularensis