Diseases from Pet Rodents

  • Numerous rodent species can carry diseases harmful to humans and other household pets.
  • People with decreased immune systems, including the elderly, infants, and pregnant women are most at risk of contracting disease from pet rodents. Healthy individuals are at low-risk of contracting such diseases.

Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV):

  • Domesticated rodents such as hamsters guinea pigs and gerbils can contract LCMV after coming into contact with infected mice and transmit the disease to humans through urine, feces or saliva.
  • Infected pet owners show a range of symptoms including fever, headaches, nausea and vomiting. Meningitis has been known to occur 7-15 days after infection.

Hemorrhagic fevers:

  • This group of diseases can be found in rodent species that are native to South America and Africa.
  • Four to twenty-one days after infection, flu-like symptoms appear and can lead to more severe symptoms such as hemorrhages, edema, hypotension, circulatory collapse and neurological signs. Some cases are fatal.

Monkeypox:

  • Monkeypox is a deadly virus in the small pox family that originates in rodents from central and western Africa. Humans can contract the disease through contact with infected blood, saliva, or other bodily fluids from both infected humans and animals.
  • The Monkeypox infection presents itself about 12 days after infection with fever, headache, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. Soon after, a rash of raised bumps filled with fluid starts to spread. The rash usually lasts 2-4 weeks before the bumps get crusty, scab over and fall off.

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Sources: “Information for Pet Owners: Reducing the Risk of Becoming Infected with LCMV from Pet Rodents” Center for Disease Control and Prevention; “Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus from Pet Rodents” Center for Disease Control.; “Monkeypox”; Bruno B. Chomel, DVM PhD. Pediatric Infectious Diseases Journal, 1992, 11:479-487“Monkeypox”; “Viral Hemmorhagic Fevers”.; “Zoonoses”; “Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Caused by Arena Viruses”

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