Rodent-borne infectious disease outbreaks after flooding disasters: Epidemiology, management, and prevention


  • James H. Diaz, MD, DrPH



Hantavirus, New World Hantaviruses, American Hantaviruses, Sin nombre virus, Bayou virus, Black Creek Canal virus, Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, Old World Hantaviruses, Leptospira interrogans, leptospirosis, Weil's disease, infectious disease outbreaks,


Objective: To alert clinicians to the climatic conditions that can precipitate outbreaks of the rodent-borne infectious diseases most often associated with flooding disasters, leptospirosis (LS), and the Hantavirus-caused diseases, hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS); to describe the epidemiology and presenting clinical manifestations and outcomes of these rodent-borne infectious diseases; and to recommend both prophylactic therapies and effective control and prevention strategies for rodent-borne infectious diseases.

Design: Internet search engines, including Google®, Google Scholar®, Pub Med, Medline, and Ovid, were queried with the key words as search terms to examine the latest scientific articles on rodent-borne infectious disease outbreaks in the United States and worldwide to describe the epidemiology and presenting clinical manifestations and outcomes of LS and Hantavirus outbreaks.

Setting: Not applicable.

Participants: Not applicable.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measure: Rodent-borne infectious disease outbreaks following heavy rainfall and flooding disasters.

Results: Heavy rainfall encourages excessive wild grass seed production that supports increased outdoor rodent population densities; and flooding forces rodents from their burrows near water sources into the built environment and closer to humans. Conclusions: Healthcare providers should maintain high levels of suspicion for LS in patients developing febrile illnesses after contaminated freshwater exposures following heavy rainfall, flooding, and even

freshwater recreational events; and for Hantavirus-caused infectious diseases in patients with hemorrhagic fevers that progress rapidly to respiratory or renal failure following rodent exposures.

Author Biography

James H. Diaz, MD, DrPH

Environmental/Occupational Health, LSU School of Public Health, New Orleans, Louisiana


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How to Cite

Diaz, MD, DrPH, J. H. “Rodent-Borne Infectious Disease Outbreaks After Flooding Disasters: Epidemiology, Management, and Prevention”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 10, no. 3, July 2015, pp. 259-67, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2015.0207.




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