Doctor speaking with a patient that was bitten by a rat | What diseases do rats carry? | Des Moines IA | Springer Professional Home Services

One of the most concerning aspects of mice and rats on your property is their ability to spread disease and bacteria. Rodents can bring hazards to your health, even if you never physically touch them. For example, you can become ill by consuming food that they have contaminated or by spending time in an area where an infestation is taking place. In Iowa mice and rats are well-known for spreading numerous harmful diseases. 

Which Rodents Carry Diseases?

Almost all rodent species can transmit diseases to both humans and pets. Mice and rats are the main culprits when it comes to home invasion, so their presence within the home is what prompts the greatest concern for disease transmission. These pests can spread illnesses through numerous methods, including scratches, bites, or through contact with their feces and urine. Further, there are fleas, ticks, and mites that often live on the rodents that are also capable of spreading disease. Here are some of the primary rodents to keep an eye out for: 

  • Deer mouse: This mouse is often found in rural or semi-rural areas and will invade homes in search of food. They primarily carry hantavirus and salmonella
  • House mouse: Found globally in both rural and urban settings. They are known to spread rat-bite fever.
  • Meadow vole: These voles can transmit tularemia (also known as rabbit fever). They also commonly host various ectoparasites like ticks and mice.
  • Roof rat: These rats transmit salmonella (through food contamination), rat-bite fever, leptospirosis, murine typhus, and toxoplasmosis.

Rodent-Borne Illnesses to Watch Out For

Many diseases spread by rodents can lead to severe health complications if not addressed promptly. Some illnesses carried by rodents can even be deadly. In Iowa, some of the more serious diseases spread by the mentioned rodents include:

  • Hantavirus: Typically transmitted by deer mice, this is a serious respiratory illness that begins with symptoms like chills and fever and requires immediate medical attention.
  • Rat-bite fever: A disease that is usually spread through scratches or bites of infected rodents or even from handling contaminated traps without adequate safety measures.
  • Leptospirosis: This disease is often caused by rodents but, in general, is from bacteria in water or soil contaminated with the urine of infected animals.
  • Salmonellosis: Commonly linked to ingesting contaminated food. It is also spread through rodent feces.
  • Tularemia: A disease known as rabbit fever, and can be contracted by handling infected rodents like the meadow vole.
  • Murine Typhus: This disease is transmitted by fleas that have bitten infected rodents, particularly rats.
  • Toxoplasmosis: Primarily associated with cat feces, rodents can also carry the parasite that causes this infection, which can lead to flu-like symptoms in healthy adults.

Symptoms of Rodent-Borne Illness

Rodent contracted diseases should be taken seriously and meeting with a doctor is urgent. If you know of a nearby infestation or you’ve recently handled live or dead rodents, monitor for the following disease symptoms:

  • Muscle pains
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Ulcers

These are signs of needing help from a healthcare provider for a thorough evaluation and treatment.

Take Care of Rat Infestations ASAP with Springer Professional Home Services

Finding rodents on your property requires immediate action to protect your home and health. Contacting rodent extermination professionals like Springer Professional Home Services for rodent control is a safe and effective way to remove these pests. Contact us today!

Back to Rodent Identification

What Diseases Do Rats Carry in Iowa?

Serving Central Iowa since 1989

Des Moines | West Des Moines | Cedar Rapids | Davenport | Iowa City | Urbandale

Marshalltown | Fort Dodge | Waterloo | Ankeny | Ames | Altoona | Bondurant | Waukee