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Health Hazards Posed by Rodents

Health Hazards Posed by Rodents

– National Pest Management Association

Monday, November 24, 2014

brought to you by www.pestworld.org


A focus on select infectious diseases


It’s not uncommon, especially during the winter months, to have an unpleasant encounter with a rodent who has made its way into a home uninvited. What many people do not realize, however, is that these pests can be much more than a nuisance. Rodents, such as rats, mice, prairie dogs and rabbits, are associated with a number of health risks. In fact, rats and mice are known to spread more than 35 diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through handling of live or dead rodents, through contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, and through rodent bites. Diseases carried by rodents can also be spread to humans indirectly, through fleas, ticks, or mites that have fed on an infected rodent.

This is especially concerning as the weather cools and rodents start to look for snug warm places to overwinter – like our homes. The National Pest Management Association estimates that rodents invade about 21 million homes in the United States every winter, squeezing through spaces as small as a nickel.

Rodent droppings can trigger allergies and transmit food borne illness such as salmonella, and as mice are capable of dropping up to 25,000 fecal pellets each year, an estimated 70 times each day – prevention and prompt removal in case of an infestation is key.

Below is a summary of some of the most common diseases associated with rodents: Hantavirus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis, tularemia, and plague.


The Sin Nombre Hantavirus was first recognized in 1993 in the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States, but is now found primarily in the western United States. This virus is carried by the deer and white-footed mouse and the cotton and rice rat.

People become infected with Hantavirus through several routes, but rodent infestation in and around the home remains the primary risk. The virus is mainly transmitted to people when fresh rodent urine, droppings, or nesting materials are stirred up, become airborne and are breathed in by people. In addition, if an infected rodent bites someone, the virus may be spread to that person. Researchers also suspect people can become sick if they eat food contaminated by urine, droppings, or saliva from an infected rodent.

Typically, symptoms of Hantavirus develop between one and five weeks after exposure to fresh urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents. Infection with Hantavirus can progress to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), a severe respiratory disease which can be fatal. Early symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches in the thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders. The infected person may also experience headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal complaints, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Four to ten days after the initial phase of illness, the late symptoms of Hantavirus infection develop and HPS may appear. These include coughing and shortness of breath and progression to respiratory distress and failure. HPS has a mortality rate of 38 percent.

There is no specific treatment, cure, or vaccine for Hantavirus infection. However, if an infection is recognized early and the patient receives acute medical care in an intensive care unit, they may do better. In these care settings, patients may receive mechanical ventilation for respiratory failure and be given oxygen therapy to help them through the period of severe respiratory distress.


Lymphocytic choriomeningitis, or LCM, is a rodent-borne viral infectious disease caused by lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). The primary host of LCMV is the common house mouse. It is estimated that 5 percent of house mice throughout the United States carry LCMV and are able to transmit the virus. Other rodents, such as hamsters, are not the natural carriers, but can become infected with LCMV from wild mice.  Some human infections have resulted from contact with pet rodents.

Transmission of LCMV infections can occur after exposure to fresh urine, droppings, saliva, or nesting materials from infected rodents. Infections are more common in the colder months when mice enter homes seeking warmer winter habitats. Transmission may also occur when these materials are directly introduced into broken skin, the nose, the eyes, or the mouth – or  presumably, via the bite of an infected rodent. Person-to-person transmission has not been reported, with the exception of vertical transmission from infected mother to fetus, and rarely, through organ transplantation.

An LCMV infection has two phases; the first phase has non-specific signs and symptoms such as fever, malaise, lack of appetite, muscle aches, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Less frequent symptoms include sore throat, cough, joint pain, chest pain, testicular pain, and salivary gland pain. The second phase of illness is dominated by neurologic disease. Symptoms may include meningitis (fever, headache, stiff neck, etc.), encephalitis (drowsiness, confusion, sensory disturbances, and/or motor abnormalities, such as paralysis), or meningoencephalitis (inflammation of both the brain and meninges).

Most patients who develop neurological disease due to LCMV survive. However, as in all infections of the central nervous system, particularly encephalitis, temporary or permanent neurological damage is possible.

Women who become infected with LCM during pregnancy may pass the infection on to the fetus. Infections occurring during the first trimester may result in fetal death and pregnancy termination. Infections in the second and third trimesters may result in serious and permanent birth defects, including vision problems, mental retardation, and hydrocephaly (water on the brain).

However, excluding fetal infection, LCM is usually not fatal with a reported mortality of less than 1 percent. Most cases are self-limited, but often meningitis, encephalitis, or meningoencephalitis require hospitalization and supportive treatment based on severity. Supportive and symptomatic care with anti-inflammatory drugs, such as corticosteroids, may be considered under specific circumstances.


Plague is infamous for killing millions of people in Europe during the Middle Ages. It is a disease that affects humans and other mammals and is caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis. Humans usually get plague after being bitten by an infected rodent flea or by handling an animal infected with plague. The last urban outbreak of rat-associated plague in the United States occurred in Los Angeles in 1924-1925. Presently, human plague infections continue to occur in rural and semi-rural areas in the western United States.

Plague bacteria are most often transmitted by the bite of an infected flea. If an infected rodent dies, hungry fleas will seek other sources of blood – including humans., although dogs and cats may also bring plague-infected fleas into the home. Flea bite exposure typically results in bubonic plague.

Bubonic plague is characterized by the sudden onset of fever, headache, chills, and weakness and one or more swollen, tender and painful lymph nodes (called buboes). The buboes generally occur in the lymph nodes closest to where the bacteria entered the human body contain large quantities of multiplying bacteria.

Transmission of plague may also result from contact with contaminated fluid or tissue. For example, a hunter skinning a rabbit or other infected animal without using proper precautions could become infected. This form of exposure most commonly results in bubonic plague or septicemic plague.

Septicemic plague is characterized by life threatening septic shock withfever, chills, extreme weakness, abdominal pain, shock, and possibly bleeding into the skin and other organs. Septicemic plague can occur as the first symptom of plague, or may develop from untreated bubonic plague.

Pneumonic plague typically develops after a person breathes inbacteria-containing droplets. Patients develop fever, headache, weakness, and a rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough. The pneumonia may cause respiratory failure and shock. Pneumonic plague is the most serious form of the disease and is the only form of plague that can be spread from person to person

Plague is a very serious illness, but is treatable with commonly available antibiotics. However, without prompt treatment, the disease can cause serious illness or death. The earlier a patient seeks medical care and receives treatment that is appropriate for plague, the better his or her chances are for a full recovery. Close contacts of patients with pneumonic plague may need to be evaluated and possibly treated as well.


Tularemia is a disease of animals and humans caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Rabbits, hares, and other rodents are especially susceptible and often die in large numbers during outbreaks. Humans can become infected through several routes, including tick and deer fly bites; skin contact with infected animals; ingestion of contaminated water; and through laboratory exposure or inhalation of contaminated dusts or aerosols.

Tularemia is widely distributed and found in many parts of the United States. Naturally occurring infections have been reported from all states except Hawaii.

The signs and symptoms of tularemia vary depending on how the bacteria enters the body.. All forms are accompanied by fever, which can be as high as 104 °F. Although tularemia can be life-threatening, most infections can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

The most common form of tularemia is ulceroglandular disease and usually occurs following a tick or deer fly bite or after handling an infected animal. A skin ulcer appears at the site where the organism entered the body and is accompanied by swelling of regional lymph glands, usually in the armpit or groin.

Glandular tularemia is similar to ulceroglandular tularemia but without an ulcer. It is also generally acquired through the bite of an infected tick or deer fly or from handling sick or dead animals.

Oculoglandular disease occurs when the bacteria enter through the eye. This can occur when a person is butchering an infected animal and touches or accidentally has some of the airborne particles enter their eyes. Symptoms include irritation and inflammation of eye and swelling of lymph glands in front of the ear.

Oropharyngeal infection results from eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Patients with orophyangeal tularemia may have sore throat, mouth ulcers, tonsillitis, and swelling of lymph glands in the neck.

The most serious form of tularemia is oneumonic infection. Symptoms include cough, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. This form results from breathing dusts or aerosols containing the organism. It can also occur when other forms of tularemia (e.g. ulceroglandular) are left untreated and the bacteria spread through the bloodstream to the lungs.

NPMA encourages the public to take precautionary steps to keep rodents out of homes and away from camp sites and use repellent to prevent tick and flea bites. Check out this article on 10 Easy Tips to Prevent Mice and Rats Inside the Home for more information on rodent control.


A Guide to Identifying Common Mice and Rat Species

Rodents 101

Saturday, November 15, 2014


A guide to identifying common mice and rat species


During the winter season, it’s estimated that rodents seek shelter in more than 21 millions homes in the United States. This means that many homeowners will likely be dealing with mice or rats in their abode over the next few months – and you could be one of them.

Rodents can spread dangerous diseases and can cause major property damage, so it’s important for homeowners to familiarize themselves with the types of rodents that invade homes this time of year. Here is a guide to help you identify common mice and rat species.

Deer Mice

  • Region: Deer mice are found throughout the United States.
  • Habitat: Deer mice prefer to nest in rural areas, specifically in fence posts, tree hollows and log piles. Deer mice are rarely a problem in residential settings, but they can wander indoors during the winter months while searching for shelter from the cold weather.
  • Threats: Deer mice pose a significant health threat because they are the most common carrier of Hantavirus. This virus is transmitted primarily by the inhalation of dust particles contaminated with the urine, feces or saliva of infected deer mice.
  • Prevention tip: Don’t store pet food or birdseed in garages or storage sheds, where it is especially attractive to deer mice.
  • Unique fact: Deer mice always have a bicolored tail that is usually half brown, half white.

House Mice

  • Region: House mice are found throughout the United States.
  • Habitat: Unlike deer mice, house mice usually nest in dark, secluded areas within structures. They are excellent climbers and can jump up to a foot high.
  • Threats: House mice can cause serious property damage by chewing through materials. In fact, they have been known to spark electrical fires by gnawing on wires inside homes. These rodents are also a health threat, as they can contaminate stored food and spread diseases like Salmonella, tapeworms and the plague (via fleas).
  • Prevention tip: House mice hide in clutter, so it’s important to keep storage areas clean and store boxes off the floor. Also, keep food in sealed, rodent-proof containers.
  • Unique fact: House mice can fit through an opening as small as a dime. Although they have poor vision and are color blind, their other senses are very keen.

Norway Rats

  • Region: Like house and deer mice, Norway rats are found throughout the United States.
  • Habitat: Norway rats are primarily nocturnal and often burrow in piles of garbage or under concrete slabs. They tend to enter homes in the fall when outside food sources become scarce. Indoors, Norway rats nest in basements, attics and other undisturbed dwellings.
  • Threats: Norway rats can cause significant damage to property by gnawing through a variety of materials, including plastic and lead pipes, to obtain food and water. They are also vectors of disease, such as plague, jaundice, rat-bite fever, cowpox virus, trichinosis and salmonellosis. In addition, these rats can introduce fleas and mites into a home.
  • Prevention tip: Regularly inspect the home for signs of an infestation, such as droppings, gnaw marks, damaged food goods and grease rub marks caused by rats’ oily fur.
  • Unique fact: Norway rats can gain entry to a home through a hole larger than ½ inch, or the size of a quarter.

Roof Rats

  • Region: Roof rats are thought to be of Southeast Asian origin, but they are now found in the coastal states and southern third of the U.S.
  • Habitat: Roof rats live in colonies and prefer to nest in upper parts of structures or in trees.
  • Threats: Historically, roof rats and their fleas have been associated with bubonic plague. Although cases are rare, roof rats also spread typhus, jaundice, rat-bite fever, trichinosis and salmonellosis.
  • Prevention tip: Clean up fruit that may have fallen from trees in the yard. Also, ensure the garbage is stored in tightly covered receptacles.
  • Unique fact: The roof rat is also called the black rat or ship rat. These rodents are excellent swimmers.

If you suspect an infestation, call us today at 360-458-8624 or toll free at 877-720-8800

Rodents are known to reproduce quickly, and what may seem like a small problem can turn into a big issue overnight. To learn more about how to prevent mice and rats inside the home, click here.




Forbes Article by  Adelaide Lancaster 

Like many entrepreneurs at this time of year, I’ve been spending a good amount of time reflecting on this last year’s progress and thinking about what I’d like to achieve in the coming year. Although I’ve never been one for resolutions (too restrictive and unpleasant), I love making lists of goals. They often include a blend of personal and professional hopes and ambitions and have been helpful in clarifying my priorities for the year ahead.

As I began to think about what I’d like 2015* to have in store for me, I found myself wondering about the goal setting process. What makes for a good goal? Yes we’ve all heard about the SMART goal moniker, but besides that what should we know? How is it best to approach opportunities for action and change? I decided to ask some of the best coaches I know to weigh in on how they help their clients to get the most out of the goal setting process. Their advice made me even more eager and excited. Here’s what they had to say:

Get in the Right Mood:

1. Begin in a positive and confident frame of mind:

I encourage clients to put themselves in the right frame of mind before goal setting.  Whether it be working out, going to your favorite work space, read an inspiring book and/or reviewing recent successful projects or wins, do something that will open your mind up to think creatively and confidently about the future and what is possible for you.

Jennifer Bezoza, Executive Coach and Organizational Development Consultant


2. Start from neutral:

Take the ‘should’ out of goal-setting. Goals fueled by guilt and shame are less likely to be successful. By removing emotional reactions from any goal – personal or company-wide – you can develop your game plan with a clear and open mind. Reframe goals by stating what you want to accomplish instead of what you feel badly for not having done already.

Jennifer Edwards, change management consultant and founding partner at Edwards & Skybetter LLC.


3. Don’t Settle for Less Than Wildly Inspiring:

The place to start is to write up a one-page, year-long vision statement containing very specific, wildly inspiring goals for the top three to four areas of your life on which you want to focus on for the year.  This document must reflect what I call “the goosebump factor”: if you are not stretching your vision for the year to the point where your goals give you goosebumps, put a very broad smile on your face and make you thrilled at the thought of living your life, you haven’t gone far enough.  That level of inspiration is necessary to stay on track to executing your vision over the course of the entire year.

Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin, Executive Consultant and CEO ECM Executive Consulting

4. Pay Tribute to the Many Facets of Your Life:

Reflect on your true priorities. To do lists can get really long, and what makes it to the top doesn’t always mean it matters the most. Take a few minutes to consider your major goals in the most important parts of your life. With my clients I talk about the 5 ps (Parenting, Partnership, Personal, Pay and Professional), and help them focus on their goals in each area. Consider each category and ask yourself, “Am I getting to what really matters to me?”

Rachael Ellison, coach, organizational development consultant and founder REworking Parents


5. Pick a Theme:

In addition to specific goals for the year, I like to pick a theme.  In 2011, my theme was Foundation (i.e., getting more solid), and my specific goals were to get healthier (I worked with a personal trainer, tried gyrotonic and acupuncture for the first time, etc) and to put more structure and systems in my business.  In 2012, my theme is Joy b/c I had a super hectic 2011 and felt like I took on too much.  I wanted a theme that would remind me to have fun.  A vivid theme acts as a compass when you make decisions about specific goals or strategies to ensure they are aligned with how you’re feeling overall.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine, career coach, author, and partner atSixFigureStart


6. Opt for Guidelines Not Rules:

Avoid creating hard and fast rules when it comes to setting action steps for your goals.  Rules are by their nature engineered to be broken.  All too often clients abandon goals because they set a steadfast rule that they were too tempted to break early in the process.  A quickly broken rule and the subsequent fall out can be all the reason someone needs to say farewell to a goal. Instead, consider adopting guidelines or policies.  For example, instead of saying “no frivolous purchases” soften it too “if I want to buy something frivolous, I will wait 48 hours. If I still want it after 48 hours, I can buy it.”

Diane Costigan, Executive, Career, and Life Coach and Senior Career Advisor with Shannon & Manch LLP.


7. Scale Back by 20% & Get Constructively Addicted:

Once you identify a goal, determine action steps and assign metrics for measurement, scale it all back by 20%–particularly if you are an overachiever. For example, if your goal is to be totally debt free by year-end and you have a considerable amount of debt, scale it back to “decrease debt by 80%”. If an action step to your fitness goal is to go to the gym 5 times a week and you currently go zero times, readjust to a more realistic number like 2-3 times. People can get energized and excited at the beginning of the goal setting process only to lose steam when they feel it’s more of a burden or an obligation.  Better to set the bar slightly lower, exceed your expectations and get addicted to your success. There’s always room to add and grow on to goals which can feel empowering–sliding backwards on your own expectations can be dispiriting.

Diane Costigan, Executive, Career, and Life Coach and Senior Career Advisor with Shannon & Manch LLP.


8. Make Sure Your Goals “Line Up”:

What I do as a coach is simply encourage people to look deeply at their own internal value system to see if priorities line up properly. Are the things you are striving for in line with your own deepest held values? Are you being who you want to be, doing what you always wanted to do? Be honest. Because if your compass is off by even a few degrees, then every step you take gets you further away from where you really want to go.

Ann Mehl, Executive Coach

9. Factor In Your Resistance and “Level of Readiness”:

It’s important to evaluate the goals from the perspective of your readiness for change. Sometimes we write out and articulate goals based on what we feel we should do, and don’t evaluate our real readiness/desire to make it happen.  A relevant model is the transtheoretical model for change, which talks about the individual stages of change.  For example, someone in the “contemplation stage” may articulate a goal, which they are not quite ready to focus on and take action against. It’s important to be realistic with oneself about where you are in wanting to really take action against particular goals.


Jennifer Bezoza, Executive Coach and Organizational Development Consultant.

10. Consider What You Will STOP doing:

If you’re setting a goal that involves doing a new activity (going to the gym, writing an article, taking a dance class) consider what you’re going to STOP doing in order to make room for the time you’ll need. (I’m going to STOP watching “Mad Men” marathons for hours at a time; I’m going to STOP online shopping on a regular basis).

Yael SiviManaging Partner of Collaborative Coaching


11. If Necessary, Sweeten the Deal!:

If you’re trying to take on a new goal/activity that you find less-than-exciting but necessary, find a way to sweeten the deal as a way to convince yourself to do it. (For instance, years ago I realized that I found paying bills utterly boring and as a result I would procrastinate it and sometimes would pay bills late as a result. I thought of what I loved to do—go to a café and enjoy a latte—so I decided I would combine activities. For months, I took myself out for a latte and brought all my bills, checkbook, and stamps with me (I date myself here!) and ended up paying bills and enjoyed some downtime with myself

Yael Sivi, Managing Partner of Collaborative Coaching


Adelaide Lancaster is an entrepreneur, consultant, speaker and co-author of The Big Enough Company: Creating a business that works for you (Portfolio/Penguin). She is also the co-founder of In Good Company Workplaces, a first-of-its-kind community, learning center and co-working space for women entrepreneurs in New York City. She is also a contributor to The Huffington Post and a columnist for The Daily Muse. She lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband and daughter.



We at PCI Pest Control hope you have enjoyed this article! Send us a message or leave us a comment and let us know what you thought! What are some tools you use for goal setting? Good luck planning for 2015 from all of us here at PCI Pest Control- Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


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