5 Diseases You Can Get From Rats

Posted on January 10, 2023

Unwelcome visitors in any home aren’t a fun time. Whether it’s rats, mice, bugs, termites, or other creepy crawlies, any unrecognizable sounds or droppings should be taken seriously. Not only can these intruders affect the integrity of your home, but they can also carry diseases that can have a big influence on your well-being. Rats and other rodents are known to be carriers of many diseases and human infections that can lead to serious health risks in the human body and, in severe cases, even death if left untreated.

To properly understand the dangers of a rodent infestation we need to take a look at the basics of how diseases can be spread and how they can infect human beings.

Some of the main modes of transmission include:

  • Exposure to infected animal waste including infected urine, feces, saliva, and nesting material (usually through airborne particles or skin contact)
  • Bites from the infected rat or other insects (like deer fly bites)
  • Handling of infected rodents or insects – some diseases can be transmitted with no direct contact, bite, or scratch mark necessary.
  • Eating contaminated food

The following is a list of some common diseases carried by rats.

1. Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV)

While the common house mouse is the primary host of LCMV, many rats carry this disease after coming in contact with another infected rodent. LCMV is a virus that is normally transmitted by waste matter from an infected rodent. LCMV usually occurs in two stages with the first including symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, and lack of appetite. The second stage is primarily more neurological in nature including the occurrence of meningitis, encephalitis, or meningoencephalitis in the infected person.

The LCMV infection will rarely infect humans and most people with a stable immune system will be able to fight it off. Those with weakened immune systems may have to deal with this disease a bit more.

2. Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome

Another disease transmitted by rodents is HPS. Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a severe respiratory disease caused by exposure to the waste matter of deer mice, wild mice, house mice, rice rats, and other infected rats and mice. It can also be caused by coming into contact with dead rodents. It is a serious illness that can be potentially life-threatening. It currently does not have a treatment, cure, or vaccine.

It is important to be aware of this serious disease when dealing with a rat infestation or when you come across rodent droppings.

Some of the main symptoms seen in human infection include fever, fatigue, and muscle aches (generally in hips, backs, and thighs) and may include diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.

3. Salmonella Bacteria

Salmonellosis is another disease carried by rodents. It is a bacterial infection of the intestines caused by a group of bacteria called Salmonella. The bacteria are shed in the stool of infected animals and humans. The infection affects humans through eating food contaminated with bacteria.

Some rodents carry this bacteria in their digestive tract. So, making any contact with rodent waste, especially the consumption of contaminated food, can be a potential risk of becoming infected with salmonella. The disease can cause many flu-like symptoms like chills, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

4. Rat Bite Fever

Rat bite fever (RBF) is a bacterial disease that rats carry and are part of the normal flora of their mouth and nose. People can get infected through bites or scratches by rats. Up to 10% of rat bites may result in RBF. Other animals such as mice, gerbils, squirrels, cats, and dogs can also get infected and may or may not get sick with RBF, but can spread it.

5. Plague

This disease from the middle ages can still affect humans when transmitted by wild rodents. While this isn’t the bubonic plague, it is a form of the plague commonly found in wild and pet rodents. Plague is a serious infection of humans caused by a germ called Yersinia pestis. It is usually caused by the bite of an infected flea bite, infected tick bite, or an infected deer fly bite after it has fed on or has come in contact with infected wild animals, such as rats, chipmunks, guinea pigs, or other animals.

Plague, which usually causes large sores and abscesses in the glands of the arms and legs, is treatable with antibiotics. As well, plague infections can cause swollen lymph nodes.

Wildside Wildlife Removal and Prevention

Get ahead of any unwanted rats before you become infected with a disease. With Wildside Wildlife Removal and Prevention, pest control and disease control are our priorities. We work to safely remove rats, mice, and other pesky rodents before they take over your home. Contact us today to see how we can help remove rats from your home.