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11/28/2022 5 minute read

Rat Diseases

Have you ever encountered a rat? If so, aren't you worried about the diseases they can spread to you and your family? Join us as we dive in to the riveting world of rat-borne diseases.

Have you ever encountered a rat? If so, then you know that they are all over the place. You may even have one or two living in your attic right now. Rats are nasty and disease-ridden creatures that carry many different types of viruses, bacteria, and parasites that can cause sickness in humans. In fact, they are responsible for the demise of more human lives than any other animal in history.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the rat infestation problem is only getting worse. That’s right; there are more rats now living on Earth than at any other time in human history!

In this article, we will be exploring rat-borne illnesses, how these diseases affect people’s health, and finally provide some tips on how to prevent rat infestations and diseases in your home!

image of a rat

Rat-Borne Diseases

Rats have been known to carry diseases for centuries. In the past, rat infestations have been blamed for spreading plagues that killed millions of people across Europe and Asia. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rats and mice are known to spread over 35 different diseases and infections to humans.

Rats can carry many different types of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi on their bodies and in their bloodstream. These can be passed on to humans either directly or indirectly. For instance, rats can pass diseases onto humans through bites or scratches that break the skin, but they can also spread germs on their fur and then transfer these pathogens to people when we come into contact with them without washing our hands first.

Diseases That Are Directly Transmitted By Rats

There are many different types of diseases that rats can directly transmit to humans. Some of the more common ones are:

Microscopic image of the Hanta Virus

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is a severe respiratory disease that can be caused by direct contact with rat droppings, urine, or saliva. Some of the symptoms include fever and chills, headache, body aches, and dizziness. Left untreated HPS can lead to difficulty in breathing which requires hospitalization in an intensive care unit.

Rat Bite Fever (Streptobacillus moniliformis)

This illness is contracted by either ingesting contaminated food or water, coming in direct contact with the saliva of an infected rat, or through a cut that comes into contact with rodent urine or feces. Rat-bite fever typically starts out like many other illnesses with fever, chills, headaches, and muscle aches.

Many people recover from rat-bite fever after a few weeks of these initial symptoms without any further complications. However, in some cases, the disease can turn into something much more serious such as kidney or heart failure which could eventually lead to death if not treated.

Hepatitis E

This disease is caused by the hepatitis E virus that can be found in rat droppings, urine, and saliva. People contract this disease when they come in contact with these animals’ bodily fluids through either a break in the skin or through the eyes, nose, or mouth. Symptoms include fever and jaundice, very common symptoms, which is why this disease can be easily confused with other more common illnesses such as hepatitis A or the flu.

Hepatitis E is not typically deadly in healthy adults, but it can cause liver damage and even death to people with weak immune systems such as those who are elderly or suffer from other chronic health conditions.

Microscopic image of the Leptospira bacteria

Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can be transmitted to humans by way of rat urine. When a human catches leptospirosis from a rat, the symptoms can be similar to those of other illnesses such as a fever and headache. In rare cases, severe complications from leptospirosis include liver or kidney failure which could lead to death if not treated in time.

Tularemia (Rabbit Fever)

This infectious disease usually affects small mammals, but it can also spread to humans through contact with rat urine, saliva, or feces. It is a serious disease that can lead to death if not treated in time so it’s important to see your doctor immediately if you think you might have been exposed.

Microscopic image of the Salmonella Bacteria

Salmonellosis (salmonella)

This bacterial illness causes diarrhea that lasts for several days. It can also cause vomiting and fever which is why it should be taken very seriously because left untreated salmonella poisoning could eventually lead to death if not treated properly in a hospital setting.

Illnesses That Are Indirectly Transmitted By Rats

In addition to the illnesses that rats directly spread, there are many other types of illnesses that they can transmit without ever coming in direct contact with us. Rat parasites such as ticks, lice, and mites are the usual vector for these illnesses. Some examples of diseases that rats can indirectly transmit to humans include:

Typhus

This disease is a bacterial infection caused by a pathogen called Rickettsia Prowazekii and it can be spread through rat mites. When people come in contact with infected clothing, bedding, or furniture that has been exposed to the droppings of an infected rodent then they could also contract this illness. Symptoms include fever, headache, chills, and rash which is about as bad as it gets for typhus.

Plague

This is another serious disease that people can contract through rat parasites such as ticks and fleas. The parasites drink from the blood of infected rodents and they carry the bacterium Yersinia pestis in their gut. When a human comes into contact with an infected tick or other rat parasites, or with materials that have been exposed to them such as clothing, bedding, or furniture then they could also contract plague which can be fatal if not treated in time.

Colorado tick fever

This disease is caused by a virus that can be transmitted to humans through the bite of a tick that has fed on the blood of infected animals. Wild rodents are the usual carriers of this disease. The only way to protect yourself against this disease is by avoiding contact with wild animals such as rats, mice, and chipmunks which are all common carriers of Colorado tick fever.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis

This is a parasitic disease that usually affects rodents, but it can spread to humans through the bite of sandflies which are themselves infected by an infected rodent’s blood. The symptoms include red ulcers on the skin and while not life-threatening they should be taken very seriously because if left untreated, leishmaniasis lesions will worsen and could turn into open wounds that may never heal properly.

Lyme disease

This disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi which can be transmitted to humans through infected ticks. If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause chronic arthritis and heart problems in addition to other serious complications so it should not be taken lightly under any circumstances.

Murine typhus

This disease is caused by a bacteria called Rickettsia typhi which can be transmitted to humans through infected fleas. Early symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, and chills so if you experience any of these it’s important to go see your doctor right away. Severe cases of murine typhus are rare but could potentially lead to organ damage.

How to Keep Yourself Safe

Rats have been spreading infection ever since the dawn of civilization and as their populations expand they become more likely to come into contact with humans. This is why we must learn how to protect ourselves from rats before an outbreak occurs. The last thing you want is a serious illness that could leave you in the hospital for weeks or even months.

There are several steps that you can take to avoid rat-borne illnesses including:

Home and yard upkeep

This is by far the most important step. If your home is in disarray with trash and other debris scattered around then you are practically begging for an infestation of rats or other rodents such as mice, chipmunks, or squirrels to move into your space without resistance. Be sure that all food sources have been removed from inside and outside of your home because the scent will attract rodents and insects to invade.

Control the rodent population

Make sure that your home is rat-proof by sealing entry points like cracks and crevices. By doing this you can reduce the chances of coming into contact with rats and other rodents.

Wash your hands

Washing your hands and changing your clothes before and after you come in contact with animals is a good way to prevent yourself from contracting any serious illnesses.

Stay away from floodwater

Flood water can have infected urine and feces mixed in with it which can enter your body through breaks in the skin like wounds or cuts.

Avoid areas with high rat populations

If you don’t want to come into contact with rats then stay away from places where there are high concentrations of rodents such as dumpsters behind restaurants and grocery stores.

Image of a rat infestation

Call rat control if you have a rodent infestation

You don’t know where did rats come from on your property? And you don’t know how to get rid of them? In this case, it would be best to call a professional rat exterminator company like AAAC Wildlife Removal for help.

If you don’t take care of your rodent problem then you could end up with bigger problems such as a full-blown infestation that will be very difficult to control.

Conclusion

Rats have been responsible for spreading sickness throughout time and there is always a risk that they will spread them to humans. These infections range from mild to fatal and can be contracted either directly or indirectly. By taking the right preventative measures, you can reduce your chances of coming into contact with a rat and contracting a serious illness.

This means being proactive in protecting yourself from these illnesses by maintaining your home, washing hands frequently, staying away from areas with high concentrations of rodents, and calling professionals if you have a rat infestation problem on your property.

Rat FAQs

Do rats like to swim?

Yes! rats like to swim! They are often seen swimming in canals and streams. Rats are excellent swimmers and can tread water for up to three days!

Do rats dig holes?

Rats dig holes in the ground for a variety of reasons. They may be looking for food, water, or shelter. Holes also provide rats with a way to escape from predators.

Originally published on https://aaacwildliferemoval.com/blog/rats/rat-diseases