Main zoonosis transmitted by small mammals

Virus zoonosis


  • infectious agent: a virus of a cow, orthopoxvirus 
  • animal disease: 
    • local symptoms: papule, vesicle pustule ulceration

    • general symptoms: flu-like syndrom
  • Mean of contamination: direct contact, bite, scratch. Rats from a farm in Czech Republic in 2013 
  • human disease : skin rash

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis:

  • infectious agent: an arenavirus, the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV)mice, hamster, Guinea pig, rat, squirrel, chinchilla
  • animal disease
    • Usually without symptoms.
    • Sometimes nervous symptoms and quick death.
  • Mean of contamination:
    • bite or contact of damaged skin or mucous membranes with the droppings or saliva of infected rodents.
    • Inhalation of contaminated spray dust, in close contact with infected rodents.
    • More rarely by ingestion of water or food contaminated by droppings of rodents.
  • human disease :
    • Incubation period of 1 to 2 weeks.
    • Usually without symptoms.
    • Sometimes: Mild form like a flu.
    • Meningeal form: fever and symptoms of meningitis, healing without sequels.
    • In pregnant women, the infection can cause an abortion but also serious malformations of the unborn child.

Hepatitis E

  • infectious agent: a virus, the Hepatitis E virus (HEV): Mini pig, rabbit
  • animal disease: Usually without symptoms.
  • Mean of contamination: ingestion of water contaminated by droppings.
  • human disease : Hepatitis like hepatitis A

Bacterial zoonosis

Streptobacillosis and pasteurellosis

  • infectious agent: a bacterium, streptobacillus moniliformis
  • animal disease: usually without symptoms.
  • Mean of contamination: exclusively by bite, especially by a rat (50-80% of the rats would carry Streptobacillus sp.), but also a mice, a  Guinea pig, a gerbil, a squirrel
  • human disease : fever, joint pain and a rash occurring within 2 to 5 days.

Yersiniosis (pseudotuberculosis)

  • infectious agent: a bacterium,Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. Guinea pig and  prairie dog (Cynomys spp.)
  • animal disease: generalized infection with appearance of small abscesses on the liver and the spleen, resembling the tubers from tuberculosis.
  • Mode of contamination: feco-oral pathway
  • human disease : 
    • mesenteric adenitis with appendicitis-like symptoms
    • sometimes septicemia.


  • infectious agent: a bacteria,  Listeria monocytogenes: rodents.
  • animal disease: nervous symptoms
    • acute in young:  meningoencephalitis and death
    • Subacute in adults: torticollis, disorders of balance and convulsions. Abortions and stillbirths
  • Mean of contamination: ingestion of water contaminated by droppings.
  • human dIsease : 
    • flu-like febrile syndrome,
    • Abortion in pregnant woman
    • sometimes meningoencephalitis in immunodepressed people


See zoonosis transmitted by reptiles

Fungal zoonosis


It's the most frequent zoonosis. 

  • infectious agent: a fungal parasite, mostly Trichophyton mentagrophytes
  • animal disease 



  • Mean of contamination: direct contact with guinea-pigs bring spores to humans. Other rodents and rabbits can also transmit ringworm, with a much lower incidence.
  • human dIsease : especially in children, tinea corporis



Parasitic zoonosis

Scabiess and pseudoscabies (=mange):

  • infectious agent: mite parasite:
    • Scabies: (guinea pig scabies: Trixacarus caviae, rat scab: Notoedres muris, ..., rabbit scabies: Sarcoptes scabei)
    • Pseudoscabies (rabbit : pseudoscabies Cheyletiella parasitivorax).

Trixacarus caviae (source:

  • animal disease: pruritus, alopecia, crusts


Lesions of guinea pig scabies by Trixacarus caviae (source

 Feet sarcoptes scabies of a rabbit           

Feet and head lesions of rabbit scabies by Sarcoptes scabei, lesions of rabbit pseudoscabies by Cheyletiella parasitivorax


  • Mean of contamination: direct contact
  • human disease: 
    • mostly temporary parasite: the multiple stings of Cheyletiella  make papules and pruritus
    • sometimes permanent parasite: Sarcoptes scabei bring to real scabies 

     human hand scabies

lesions of Cheyletiella on a human arm, lesions of Sarcoptes scabies on a hand


Complete list of mammals zoonosis