Rodents are Potential Threat to Human and Animal Health

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Rodents can cause major problems due to destruction and contamination of food, in addition to disease spread, say Annette Backhans and Claes Fellström, both with the Department of Clinical Sciences at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. 

An article by the authors appears in the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, in which they describe the occurrence of pathogens in rodents specifically on pig and chicken farms. 

“The emphasis is on zoonotic pathogens that are indirectly transmitted to humans through contaminated food, or pathogens that cause important diseases in pigs,” the authors write in their abstract. “The order, Rodentia (L. rodere, to gnaw) constitutes the most successful mammalian group, both in terms of the number of species and individuals.”

Two commensal species are common inhabitants on farms worldwide: the house mouse (Mus musculus) and the brown rat (Norwegian rat, or Rattus norvegicus), according to Backhans and Fellström. 

“Both species originated from Asia, from where they spread over the world along with the development of agriculture, which provided shelter and supplies of food. They are underground dwellers, omnivorous and can breed year-round when conditions are optimal,” the authors say.

On farms, the risk of rodent-borne spread of pathogens to production animals is obvious due to the difficulty of excluding rodents from animal houses. Several studies have focused on rodents as possible carriers of various pathogens. 

Read the full article here.

Originally published in February 2017 by Annette Backhans, VMD, Ph.D., and Claes Fellström, VMD, Ph.D., both with the Department of Clinical Sciences at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

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