Rodent-Borne Diseases In Maine

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What is a rodent-borne disease?


Rodent-borne diseases are those that are transmitted to people through direct contact with rodents (handling or a bites) and touching rodent feces, urine, and saliva. Mice and rats also carry ticks, mites, and fleas that can act as vectors to spread diseases between rodents and people. 

norway rat on a fence outside yarmouth maine home

Types of rodent-borne diseases in Maine


Before we dive into the list of diseases carried by mice and rats in Maine, it’s important to note that there are several types of rodents capable of spreading disease and causing illness. They include:

  • Common house mouse
  • White-footed mouse
  • Deer mouse
  • Norway rat
  • Roof rat

While all rodents carry and transmit disease, not all rodents carry every single disease. Common rodent-borne diseases in Maine include:

  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Hantavirus 
  • Rat bite fever
  • Salmonellosis

Leptospirosis

A disease caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira, Leptospirosis is spread by touching urine and other bodily fluids of infected animals including rats, mice, dogs, and farm animals as well as raccoons and other wildlife. 

Common signs and symptoms of Leptospirosis include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pains
  • Muscle aches
  • Jaundice 
  • Red eyes
  • Skin rashes

Without proper treatment, Leptospirosis can cause kidney damage and failure, meningitis, liver failure, and even death. 

Although the last documented cases of Leptospirosis was in 1996, it is believed many cases go undocumented. It should also be noted that canine Leptospirosis is quite prevalent in Maine and New England and can adversely affect the immune system response and organs of infected dogs. Signs are very similar to that of humans and include fever, vomiting, muscle pain, decreased appetite/weight loss, lethargy, cough, and jaundice. 

 

Lyme disease

The CDC defines Lyme disease as the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. It is primarily caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. While it is widely known that blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks) spread Lyme disease in Maine, the white-footed mouse carries the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Deer ticks feed on infected mice and then in turn pass the disease to people and pets. 

Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease include but are not limited to:

  • Fever 
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Bulls eye rash (also called Erythema migrans rash)
  • Severe headaches
  • Neck stiffness
  • Facial palsy
  • Nerve pain 
  • Heart palpitations

Data from the Maine Surveillance Report of 2021 shows a 34% increase in confirmed Lyme disease cases from 2020. That’s 110 cases per 100,00 people. What’s more, cases have been reported in all sixteen counties with the highest infection rate in Knox County. Those 65 years old and up are more likely to become infected with this disease. 

Rat bite fever 

Rat bite fever is an infectious disease caused by the transmission of Streptobacillus moniliformis. It is transmitted from Norway rats and other rodents to humans by rodents carrying the bacteria through bites and scratches as well as contact with saliva, urine, or droppings. 

According to the Cleveland Clinic website, rat bite fever is rare in the United States but also a major threat to public health. 

Symptoms of rat bite fever include:

  • Fever
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Rash on hands and feet


Additionally, rat bite fever can affect the heart, lungs, and other organs and is potentially fatal. 

Salmonellosis


Salmonella is a group of bacteria that lives in the intestines of animals and humans and can be found in water, food, and soil as well as on surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces of infected rodents as well as other animals. It is often spread to people by eating foods that have been contaminated with feces, poor hand hygiene, and contact with the stool of infected animals. 

Signs and symptoms of salmonellosis usually start within 6 to 72 hours after exposure and include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever

How Maine residents can protect against rodent-borne diseases


To prevent exposure to mice and rats and the diseases they spread, the local pest control pros at Pine State Pest Solutions recommend the following rodent prevention tips:

  • Seal entry points in the foundation, walls, and roof as well as around utility openings
  • Install door sweeps, vent screens, and chimney caps
  • Make sure gutters are free of clogs and debris and that downspouts divert water away from the foundation
  • Keep your yard clear of clutter and potential food sources
  • Store firewood well away from the house and off the ground
  • Pick up pet waste
  • Trim trees, shrubs, and bushes away from the side of the house 
  • Maintain a clean home
  • Repair leaky faucets and pipes 
  • Declutter the entire house including the attic, garage, and closets

Contact Pine State Pest Solutions for help getting rid of mice & rats


If you’ve discovered mice or rats in your home, contact Pine State Pest Solutions right away. Left un-treated, these rodents will not go away. Offering effective rodent control in Auburn, Augusta, and Yarmouth as well as throughout our multi-county service area, our pest control specialists will: 

  • Conduct a thorough rodent inspection
  • Perform an initial clean-out targeting rodents already active
  • Seal obvious entry points and complete minor exclusion work
  • Install rodent bait boxes outside the house and also in the garage, attic, and basement
  • Return for follow-up visits

While on-site your pest control specialist will also point out landscape corrections and offer behavior recommendations that will help make your property less appealing to mice and rats.
 

For ongoing protection against mice & rats, sign up for year-round pest control

In addition to our stand-alone rodent control, Pine State also offers home pest control services that not only target house-infesting insects, but also rodents. Compare our plans below or simply give us a shout to discuss the best solution for your rodent problem!

*initial start-up fees may apply.

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