Bacterial diseases

Rodent-Borne Diseases Are on the Rise

Due to the population’s waning immunity to zoonotic diseases and the increase in imported pet rodents, it is increasingly important for health care providers to understand the etiology of the viruses to better manage infected patients, as well as prevent and control infection.


These were the conclusions of a research paper led by Dr James H Diaz, who is a professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine in the School of Public Health and professor of Anesthesiology in the School of Medicine at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.



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The paper was presented on Monday at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases 2018.


To better understand the etiologies and clinical manifestations of rodent-borne diseases, Dr Diaz and colleagues searched online databases for relevant keywords.


The results showed that rodent-to-human transmission of domestic and imported orthopoxviruses is likely to increase. One reason for this is, because the vaccinia vaccination eradicated smallpox in the 20th century, the population’s immunity to zoonotic orthopoxviruses is now waning.


Dr Diaz also warns that hantaviruses can also become prevalent due to their presence in imported rodents, which will cause an increased risk of infection for pet breeders and owners.


“The most effective prevention and control strategies for pet rodent-borne infectious diseases will include educational, importation, and retail sale interventions,” Diaz concluded.


“Educational interventions should discourage demand for exotic and wild pet ownership; and regulatory interventions should prohibit importation of reservoir species harboring zoonotic infections transmissible to native animals and man. The medical history should always include questions regarding pet ownership and any pet-inflicted injuries.”


—Amanda Balbi



Diaz J. Emerging pet-rodent-transmitted infectious diseases. Paper presented at: CDC International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases; August 26-29, 2018; Atlanta, GA. Accessed August 27, 2018.