Q & A: Illnesses in rats and mice

Q: Is it true that rats and mice carry illnesses that can affect humans? If so, how do I avoid it?

A: It is true that rodents, including rats and mice, can carry zoonoses (diseases that spread to humans). The best way to ensure healthy pets is to buy them from registered breeders, whose parent stock is healthy.

Under no circumstances should you keep wild rats and mice as pets, as they can potentially spread diseases such as salmonellosis, leptospirosis, rat bite fever, several viruses and even rabies. The fleas present on wild rodents can spread plague.

Dr Dorianne Elliott, veterinarian

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