How do viruses spread through rodents?

Way of transmission

Tiptoeing under the floor or rummaging through your cupboard, rodents are also a way for viruses to enter your home. Marco Goeijenbier of the Erasmus hospital in Rotterdam tells us many rodents can carry viruses with them. The rodents themselves however, don’t get sick from these. They carry the virus with them for their whole life.

Like every animal, rodents excrete urine, feces and saliva. Because viruses aren’t very picky, they tag along with those droppings. This means, that wherever rodents can reach, they can leave their excrements. These excrements dry in and in this process, virus-containing aerosols are created. Inhaling these aerosols is what causes an infection.

Which viruses are transmitted by rodents?

In Europe and Asia some of the most important type of viruses transmitted by rodents are Hanta-viruses. Most Hanta-viruses cause high fevers, problems with your kidneys and lungs and, in bad cases, internal bleedings.

Other viruses and bacteria transmitted by rodents are Lassa Fever and the bacterium Leptospirosis. Another famous virus spread by rodents was the pest, which caused millions to die, but is now fortunately extinct.

Protect yourself!

Preventing infection by rodents has two sides. First, you can protect yourself from coming into contact with the aerosols from rodent excrements. Wearing a certified face masks when cleaning places where rodents have been for instance.

Second, and even more important, is trying to keep rodents out. Rodents only come close to humans, when there is food around. So don’t leave garbage or scraps of food lying around, store food in closed cupboards and keep your surroundings clean and sanitized.

Vaccination and treatment

As with many viruses, there is no vaccine or treatment against Hanta or Lassa Fever viruses. That is why preventing infections is so super important!

The only thing we can do once you are infected is to provide supporting care. Making sure you drink enough, keep to bed and support in breathing normally.