What diseases do chipmunks carry?

Most of us see chipmunks as these cute and cuddly creatures that take over the internet now and then with their cute cheeks and puppy dog eyes. Not to mention childhood characters like Chip ‘n’ Dale and Alvin and the Chipmunks have always been portrayed as your friendly neighborhood adventurers who can dance and sing. Although we can quickly learn that real-life chipmunks aren’t that friendly, most of us can underestimate how dangerous they are in terms of the diseases they carry. It’s time to pay attention to the harm chipmunks cause, as much as you pay attention to other rodents that are, well, not as cute. Below are a few diseases that chipmunks can carry:

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is actually caused and commonly transmitted by an infected tick of the Ixodes genus. However, rodents like chipmunks can get them if they’ve been bitten by these ticks, and in extension, you can get them if you’ve been bitten by a rodent. This is actually the most dangerous disease that rodents carry, so don’t be fooled by these furry creature’s cute looks, as Lyme disease can have very severe consequences. 


One of the first symptoms that can occur is a small rash called Erythema, followed by migraines, fever, chills, fatigue, and muscle and joint aches. A few of the major symptoms include severe headaches, facial paralysis, and heart and neurological disorders, which can lead to death. It’s also very tricky to detect Lyme disease, so it’s better to be safe and avoid contact with wild animals.


Yep, we said it, the plague previously known as the Black Death that took out a third of Europe. The plague can be transmitted through the infected fleas that live on rodents, and they can be transmitted to humans through contact with infected animals, may it be bites, their tissue, fluids, or droplets. Although it only occurs in less than 5,000 people worldwide today and there’s already a cure, it’s still very deadly if not treated immediately.


This is a pathogenic bacterium that humans can get by drinking or eating water contaminated with the urine of infected animals. This bacterium can also enter through open injuries and mucous membranes when they come into contact with soil and water contaminated with infected urine.

La Crosse encephalitis

Although very rare, this disease is very dangerous because it breaks down and attacks your nervous system. This disease is transmitted and carried by mosquitos, but sometimes, eastern chipmunks can be a host. Some severe symptoms include coma, seizures, and paralysis. However, what is worth noting is that most infected people show no apparent symptoms, and only a few get nausea or fever, but almost none have symptoms that we can immediately pinpoint to this disease.

What to do if you’ve been bitten by chipmunk?

So, although cute, don’t underestimate chipmunks and their bites. Chipmunks have very sharp teeth, and it’s easy for them to make painful and deep bites, even making it bleed in some instances. Once bitten, you should immediately treat it to prevent an infection. Here are a few things to do if you’ve been bitten by a chipmunk.

  • Apply pressure to the wound if it is bleeding a lot
  • Clean the wound thoroughly with a disinfectant
  • Wrap it with a clean and sterile bandage


  • If the bleeding doesn’t stop, or your wound won’t heal, then it’s best to contact a doctor

Overall, like other rodents, chipmunks can carry a lot of diseases, and they can easily transmit pathogens, bacteria, lice, and ticks to humans who get close to them. It’s always best to exercise caution around wild animals and make sure that your children know that these real chipmunks are far less friendly than Alvin, Theodore, and Simon.

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