Millions of homes in the US have rats and other rodents. They are known carriers of several diseases that could potentially lead to severe illness and even death.
Rat scratches and bites could result in rat-bite fever; rat urine could spread of leptospirosis; handling or inhalation of scat may cause liver and renal failure. Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV) is transmitted through the urine and saliva of rats. Rats are also a source of allergens. Their dander, droppings and hair can cause some people to sneeze and even suffer allergic reactions.
The bubonic plague, also known as “Black Plague,” killed millions in Europe during the Middle Ages. The infection was spread to humans through bites from infected fleas that traveled on rodents .Rodents are also responsible for typhus and hantavirus. All these only prove that rodents are indeed harmful to humans.
Rat-borne diseases fall into 2 categories:
1. Diseases transmitted directly from rat urine, feces, or bites
2. Diseases indirectly transmitted by fleas, mites or ticks
Transmission of diseases happen through several ways. The person may have been exposed to infected rodent waste like urine, saliva, feces and nesting materials. They may have been bitten by the insect or rodent.
We have created a list of diseases that are all associated with rats and have occurred in the US.
Hantavirus is often present in mouse, rice rat, and cotton rat. It is a life-threatening disease with no cure or vaccine. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, muscle aches (thighs, back and hips), diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
2. Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus
LCMV is often carried by house mice and the infection happens in 2 stages. The first stage has symptoms like headache, vomiting, nausea, lack of appetite and muscle pain. When it reaches second stage, the patient will have symptoms of encephalitis, meningitis, or meningoencephalitis.
There are several kinds of plague brought about by rodents – Bubonic, Pneumonic and Septicemic. They are all caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis. The classification of the plague depends on which part of the body it is attacking: the blood system, the immune system or the lungs. Without immediate antibiotic treatment, it could lead to death.
Salmonella bacteria can be found in the rodents’ digestive tract so it’s possible that they can transmit the disease when you come in contact with rodent waste. Symptoms of salmonella are fever, chills, nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.
5. Rate Bite Fever
Rat Bite Fever occurs when an individual is bitten by an infected rodent. But it can also be transmitted when the person handled an infected rodent or its waste product. Common symptoms of rat bite fever are fever, headaches, skin rash, vomiting, and muscle pain.
This disease is caused by a bacteria called Francisella tularenis. Rodents, rabbits and hares carry the bacteria and may get the disease. Tularemia is transmitted to humans by an infected tick or by handling of an infected animal. This disease is life-threatening if not treated right away. Its most common symptom is fever.
All these deadly diseases should serve as a wake up call for homeowners. If you have a rodent infestation, you need to take steps to get rid of the problem as soon as possible. The best course of action would be to contact a professional pest control service such as Alterra Pest Control so that those pesky critters can be eliminated before they cause any harm or damage.