Rat Infestations: Illness, Disease and How They Spread

Rat infestations are very common and most of you think that rats are dirty. But, did you know that these rodents are very tidy? As a matter of fact, rats spend more time on cleaning themselves and their living quarters. They also keep their bedroom separate from their bathroom, just like cats. Despite these facts, rats are the ones to blame for spreading illnesses. Parasites including mites, ticks, and fleas that hitch a ride on the rats and spread the disease.

Being bit by a rat, handling rodents or coming into contact with urine or feces causes the spread of the disease. Rat feces, urine and fur contaminates water and food and causes health risks like:

  • Rat-Bite Fever

Rat Bite Fever is contracted by getting scratched, bit or coming into contact with dead rats. The symptoms include vomiting, fever, rash, swelling near the wound, and or headaches. Rat bit fever is most common to occur in winter when rats have scarce food sources. During colder months, rats and mice look for warmth, food, and shelter indoors. They frequently enter houses through small crevices and cracks and even open doors. Be sure to seal off any entry points before the weather cools down to prevent rats and rodents form entering your dwelling. Eliminating food sources inside and outside helps prevent rat infestations.

Bubonic Plague

This is a deadly illness and is also referred to as Black Death. It is notorious for killing 1/3 of European population during Middle Ages. The plague is most commonly spread by the bites of infected rodent fleas. Symptoms include: headache, fever, along with painful and swollen lymph nodes. In 2012, Bubonic Plague infected a girl while camping in Colorado. Eliminating rat infestations is the best way to prevent illness and disease from rats.

  • Hantavirus

Hantavirus is a  potentially life-threatening illness and is transmitted to people by rodents. Both rats and mice can spread this disease. People become infected from inhalation or exposure to the urine, saliva or droppings of the infected rodent. There are cases where people have become very ill and even died form exposure to the infected rodents. The early symptoms of Hantavirus are muscle aches, fever, and fatigue. People also experience dizziness, headaches, abdominal problems, and chills.

  • Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis is food poisoning. Spreading of salmonellosis happens when rat feces contaminate food. The most common way this diseases is contracted is when people consume food contaminated with rat feces. The symptoms include abdominal pain, fever, and diarrhea. People report cases of salmonellosis in the thousands every year.

If you suspect a potential rat infestation, contact a professional to investigate. Do not expose yourself to contaminated areas, especially in confined spaces like an attic or crawl space.