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Rodents

Information about diseases from rodents and rodent-borne diseases.

Reporting a Disease Concern

  1. Call 311 to report a rodent or rabbit that has died with no apparent trauma (it was not prey and was not hit by a car)
    • Mice are not collected or tested
  2. City of Albuquerque will collect rodents found in the following areas for plague and tularemia testing:
    • North Albuquerque Acres
    • Neighborhoods east of Tramway Blvd
    • Foothills
    • East Mountains communities up to the Bernalillo county line

The City of Albuquerque does not provide rodent control services. Contact a pest control company if you have a rodent infestation in or around your home.

Reporting an Infestation

  1. Inform property management (owner, landlord, or management company) of the infestation; this should preferably be done in writing.
    • If no action is taken within 10 of days call 311
  2. Call 311 to report the untreated infestation to the Urban Biology Division
    • Rodent infestation complaints are only taken for residents of the City of Albuquerque living in multi-unit housing
      • However, we would be happy to answer any general questions regarding rodent infestation.
    • It is important to leave good contact information for the necessary follow-up on your report
    • Please allow up to 72 business hours for initial contact from someone in our division
  3. Review the following links for steps to take in the mean time

The City of Albuquerque takes rodent infestation reports/complaints for large apartment complexes, small four-plexes, tri and duplexes. We will also take reports on group homes, community centers, as well as hotels and motels.

The City of Albuquerque does not perform pest control services.

Single unit homes (rented or owned) should contact private pest control (We do not recommend or endorse any particular service). Our office would be happy to answer any questions that you may have about cockroaches, call 311 and request a call back and review our frequently asked questions.

Plague

Plague is a disease of animals and people caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis. About half of all U.S. cases each year originate in New Mexico.

  • If you are experiencing symptoms described here seek medical attention; with early diagnosis and antibiotics this disease is easily treatable.
  • Pets experiencing symptoms described below should be taken to a veterinarian.

Transmission

  • Plague is primarily spread through the bite of an infected flea
    • When people or pets visit areas where an animal has recently died of plague they are at risk of being bitten by fleas looking for a new host
    • Animals who are allowed to roam will often sniff burrows, pick up fleas, and bring them back into the home
  • Contact with contaminated fluid or tissue.
    • Hunters who skin animals without proper protective clothing.
    • Scratch or bite from an infected pet
  • Infectious droplets.
    • When pneumonic infection develops; the bacteria can be spread through the cough of the infected individual.
    • The only way plague can be spread from person to person

Clinical Forms of Plague & Symptoms

Plague infection may produce the following clinical forms and associated symptoms.

All three forms are caused by the same bacteria. The forms are used to describe the course of the infection in the human body. The only form that can be spread person to person is the Pneumonic form. Plague is treatable with antibiotics.

  • Bubonic plague - This is generally the most common form and is acquired through the bites of infected fleas or by direct contact with infected tissues.
    • Symptoms appear after a two to six day incubation period and include a rapid onset of high fever, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin areas, headache, and fatigue.
  • Septicemic plague - If Bubonic plague is untreated the disease can progress to Septicemic Plague which is a toxic poisoning of the blood stream. Some patients, usually teenagers, may start with the Septicemic form of plague due to flea bites or direct contact with infected tissues and have no swollen lymph nodes.
    • Symptoms include high fever, lethargy, and mental confusion.
  • Pneumonic plague - If Bubonic or Septicemic plague are untreated the disease may progress to Pneumonic plague. In this form the plague bacteria invade the lung tissue. Humans may also acquire Pneumonic plague by inhaling infective droplets from another Pneumonic patient or cat.
    • Symptoms include lung congestion, difficulty in breathing, high fever, chest pain and coughing with bloody discharge. This is the only form that is transmittable from person to person.

Animals of Concern

The plague bacteria are maintained in nature by wild rodents; however, more than 200 species can become infected.

  • Rodents (e.g., rock Squirrels, prairie dogs, pack rats, chipmunks, mice)
    • Rodents will typically die from infection
  • Rabbits
  • Wild carnivores (e.g., coyotes, bobcats, bears)
  • Domesticated animals (e.g., cats, dogs)
    • Cats are particularly susceptible to plague and commonly develop the pneumonic form

Prevention

  • Reduce rodent habitat
    • Keep piles of wood off of the ground
    • Clean up clutter from your property (e.g., brush piles, rock piles)
    • Keep pet and livestock food sealed
    • Make your home and sheds as rodent-proof as possible
  • Handle dead animals safely
    • If skinning a hunt; wear gloves and be cautious of fleas
    • Dead animals should be carefully double bagged and sealed
      • Wear long sleeves and long pants
      • Apply insect repellant containing DEET
      • You should never fling a dead animal with a shovel
      • Report dead animals to 311 for testing (we will only test from specified locations with animals that have no trauma)
  • Protect your animals by using proper flea control products. If your pet becomes sick, seek veterinarian care as soon as possible.
  • Do not allow domesticated animals to roam and hunt freely
  • Do not allow animals who are allowed to roam and hunt to sleep with people