8 Most Common Diseases Spread by Rodents In Canada
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8 Most Common Diseases Spread by Rodents In Canada

Reading time: 6 minutes

Rodents such as voles, rats, and mice are common in Canadian yards. Not only are they annoying, but they seriously endanger your health and that of your pets’ with diseases they carry, some of which are fatal.

We break down eight diseases spread by rodents and their effects on humans and animals.

Rodents Diseases Rats
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1. Hantavirus

Every year, there’s an average of about 4–5 new Hantavirus cases in Canada. Thankfully, it’s a rare but, unfortunately, deadly disease caused by the virus found in the urine, droppings, and saliva of infected rodents, primarily deer mice.

You can get hantavirus by breathing in contaminated dust, touching or handling infected rodents or their nests, or being bitten by them. The symptoms of hantavirus include fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cough.

In severe cases, hantavirus can cause respiratory failure and death. There’s no specific treatment or vaccine for hantavirus. To prevent hantavirus, avoid contact with rodents and their droppings, seal any gaps or holes in your home, and use traps or baits to get rid of them.

2. Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can affect both humans and animals. It’s spread via the urine of infected rodents, such as rats, mice, voles, and squirrels.

You can get leptospirosis by coming into contact with contaminated water, soil, or food or through direct contact with infected animals. That being said, we haven’t seen any alarming number of human infections in Canada. However, there may be an increase in leptospirosis in dogs in North America. The symptoms of leptospirosis include fever, headache, chills, muscle pain, jaundice, rash, and red eyes.

To prevent leptospirosis, avoid contact with rodent urine or contaminated water, wear protective clothing and gloves when handling animals, and vaccinate your pets.

3. Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by the bite of an infected black-legged tick, which can feed on rodents, such as mice and voles, as well as other animals, such as deer and birds. You can get Lyme disease if you’re bitten by an infected tick, which can attach to any part of the body, especially hard-to-see areas, such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. Check your provincial public health authority to find out where infected ticks are most likely to be found.

Lyme disease symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, joint pain, and a bull's-eye rash. If left untreated, it can cause serious complications, such as arthritis, nerve damage, heart problems, and brain disorders. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, but early diagnosis is essential.

To prevent this disease, avoid tick-infested areas, wear long sleeves and pants, use insect repellent, and check yourself and your pets for ticks. More on its prevention here.

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4. Plague

Plague is a rare but severe disease caused by a bacterium carried by rodents, such as rats, mice, squirrels, and prairie dogs, and their fleas. Humans can get plague by being bitten by an infected flea, being in direct contact with infected rodents or their tissues, or inhaling infected droplets from coughing animals or humans.

The symptoms of plague depend on the type of infection, but they may include fever, headache, chills, weakness, swollen lymph nodes, cough, chest pain, and bleeding. Plague can be fatal if not treated promptly with antibiotics.

To prevent plague, avoid contact with rodents and their fleas, wear gloves when handling or skinning animals, and report any sick or dead animals to your local health authority.

5. Rabies

Rabies is a viral infection that affects the nervous system of mammals, including humans and pets. It’s spread by the saliva of infected animals, such as bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, and rodents, such as rats, mice, and squirrels. That being said, human rabies cases are rare. You can only get rabies if you’re bitten or scratched by an infected animal or through contact with its saliva, such as through a wound or a mucous membrane.

The symptoms of rabies include fever, headache, anxiety, confusion, agitation, hallucinations, difficulty swallowing, and fear of water.

Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms appear, so immediate medical attention is vital. To prevent rabies, avoid contact with stray animals, vaccinate your pets, and seek medical help if exposed to a potentially rabid animal.

6. Rat-Bite Fever

This one’s true to its name. Rat-bite fever is a bacterial infection caused by two different types of bacteria: Streptobacillus moniliformis and Spirillum minus. Both types of bacteria are found in the mouth and nose of infected rodents, such as rats, mice, and gerbils, and can be transmitted to humans by a bite, scratch, or contact with their saliva.

The symptoms of rat-bite fever vary depending on the type of bacteria but may include fever, rash, joint pain, muscle pain, vomiting, and headache.

7. Salmonellosis

You’ve probably heard of this concerning raw or undercooked poultry, pork, and ground beef. You’re not too far off the mark. This bacterial infection can affect the intestinal tract of humans and animals. It’s caused by the Salmonella bacteria, which can be found in the feces of infected rodents, such as rats, mice, hamsters, and other animals, such as birds, pigs, and reptiles.

You can contract salmonellosis if you ingest contaminated food and water or have been in direct contact with infected animals or their feces.

The symptoms include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Salmonellosis can be treated with fluids and antibiotics. To prevent it, wash your hands after handling animals or their feces, cook your food completely, and keep your kitchen and utensils clean.

8. Tularemia

This is a bacterial infection that can affect various organs and systems of humans and animals. It’s caused by the Francisella tularensis bacteria in the blood and tissues of infected rodents, such as rabbits, hares, squirrels, and voles, and other animals, such as deer, sheep, and cats.

You can get tularemia by being bitten by an infected tick, flea, or fly, being in direct contact with infected animals or their carcasses, inhaling contaminated dust or aerosols, or ingesting contaminated water or food.

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FAQs About Rodent Control

What are the signs of a rodent infestation?

Some signs of a rodent infestation include droppings, gnaw marks, holes, nests, tracks, noises, odours, and sightings of live or dead rodents.

What are the best ways to get rid of rodents?

The best ways to get rid of rodents depend on the type and extent of the infestation, but they may include trapping, baiting, exclusion, sanitation, and repellents.

What are the risks of using rodenticides?

Rodenticides are poisonous substances that kill rodents and pose a risk to humans, pets, and wildlife. It can lead to accidental poisoning, secondary poisoning, environmental contamination, and resistance. Make sure to use it with caution and only as a last resort.

How can I protect myself from rodent-borne diseases?

Here’s how: By avoiding contact with rodents and their droppings, urine, saliva, fleas, and ticks, wearing protective clothing and gloves when handling or cleaning up after rodents, washing your hands and disinfecting your surfaces after exposure, and seeking medical attention if you develop any symptoms.

No Worries, Professionals Are Here To Help!

If you’re looking for an effective way to protect your yard from rodents and other pests, you can trust the pest control experts at Buzz Boss. Whether you need a one-time treatment or a year-round protection plan, we have you covered with these preventive pest control measures:

BuzzShield® Complete: This package creates an invisible barrier around your yard and home, keeping mosquitoes, ticks, ants, spiders, wasps, and rodents away. It also includes bait-box setup and wasp shield installation.

BuzzShield® Rodent: This package keeps destructive rodents—be they voles, mice, or rats— away from your property. It also includes bait-box setup and year-round defence.

Our products are safe for pets, bee-friendly, and 100% guaranteed. You can book your service online and get a free estimate. Don’t let pests ruin your outdoor enjoyment. Contact Buzz Boss today and get rid of them for good.

Book your BuzzShield® Rodent package now

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