Rats and mice are responsible for spreading 35 human and animal diseases worldwide, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diseases can be transmitted directly from the animals themselves, via contact with their urine and droppings, or indirectly, by way of fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other vectors. Here are a few of the more serious diseases that can affect both horses and people:
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease transmitted when urine from infected rodents comes into contact with mucous membranes or damaged skin of another animal. Consuming tainted feed or water is another mode of transmission. Leptospirosis causes serious illness in foals—and, occasionally, mature horses—and it is also implicated in equine abortions as well as equine0 recurrent uveitis.
Salmonellosis, a bacterial disease that can be caused by consuming hays or feeds tainted with rodent feces, is one of the leading infectious causes of diarrhea in adult horses. The disease is more likely to develop in horses exposed to the bacteria who are also under stress, by illness, transport or other means. Salmonellosis may occur in inapparent, mild or acute forms, with signs including depression, fever, loss of appetite and abdominal pain as well as diarrhea.
Lyme disease is a po- tentially debilitating and possibly fatal infection caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is spread by deer ticks. The white-footed mouse is a primary reservoir for B. burgdorferi in the Northeast and the Midwestern states. Signs of infection in horses include lethargy, fever, swollen joints, shifting leg lameness, laminitis, ocular inflammation and hypersensitivity of the skin and underlying muscle. SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention