Could myocarditis, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and Guillain-Barré syndrome be caused by one or more infectious agents carried by rodents?

Emerging Infectious Diseases
Bo NiklassonB Lundman


The numbers of small rodents in northern Sweden fluctuate heavily, peaking every 3 or 4 years. We found that the incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, as well as the number of deaths caused by myocarditis, followed the fluctuations in numbers of bank voles, although with different time lags. An environmental factor, such as an infectious agent, has been suggested for all three diseases. We hypothesize that Guillain-Barré syndrome, myocarditis, and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in humans in Sweden are caused by one or more infectious agents carried by small rodents. Also, a group of novel picornaviruses recently isolated from these small rodents is being investigated as the possible etiologic agent(s).


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