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Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis VirusMouse

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) is naturally occurring and has been found in wild mouse populations.  Prevalence in wild mice in the United States is approximately 5 percent.  Pet rodents, particularly mice, hamsters and guinea pigs, can become infected when they have contact with infected wild rodents.  This has been known to happen in facilities that breed or distribute rodents for sale to the public as pets.  In 2005, the Zoonotic Disease Program in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Agriculture participated in the investigation of an outbreak of LCMV associated with an Ohio rodent distribution facility.

People who are exposed to infected pets or wild rodents, their waste or their bedding can become infected.  LCMV does not usually affect healthy individuals.  However, pregnant women and immunocompromised individuals may be at risk.  Pregnant women may also transfer the virus to their fetuses, resulting in miscarriage or birth defects.  Signs and symptoms of LCMV infection may include: mild febrile illness, headache, chills and muscle aches and may result in aseptic meningitis and encephalitis.  Asymptomatic infections are common in healthy individuals.  There is no specific treatment.

Animals associated with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus include:

  • Rodents:  Approximately 5 percent of wild mice in the United States carry LCMV, and pet rodents (mice, hamsters, guinea pigs) can become infected when they come into contact with infected wild rodents.

Steps to reduce your risk of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus:

  • Stop rodent infestations in or around your home by sealing entry holes, trapping and killing wild rodents and removing rodent food sources and nesting areas.
  • Purchase only healthy rodents as pets.
  • Do not kiss pet rodents or put them against your face.
  • Always wash your hands after handling a pet rodent and cleaning its cage.
  • If you are pregnant or immunocompromised, you should not own or care for pet rodents.
  • If you feel you may have been exposed to LCMV or feel you are showing symptoms of LCMV, you should consult with your healthcare provider.  Only a blood test can show if someone is infected with LCMV.

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus resources:


Last updated:  09/16/2014

Zoonotic Disease Program