Rodents, like rats and mice, are unwelcome visitors that affect nearly every household at some point or another. They can cause disgust, anxiety, and household damage, but rodents can also be the cause of many health problems. Let’s take a closer look at some of the potential health effects resulting from a rodent infestation.
Forms of Disease Transmission
Rodents carry many diseases. These diseases can be transmitted through two general ways: direct and indirect. Direct transmission refers to exposure that comes from direct contact with feces, urine, bites, handling the carcass, etc. Indirect diseases are those transmitted by an intermediate vector, such as fleas, ticks or mites. Currently, the CDC lists 11 directly and 15 indirectly transmitted rodent disease.
Some Rodent Diseases
While there a many diseases associated with rodents, here are a few of the most common. Although all diseases are different, these give a good picture of the things to be aware of when dealing with rodents and some of the symptoms that may develop.
Hantavirus: The primary risk factor for this disease is rodent infestations. People can be infected by hantavirus if they inhale dust that has been contaminated with rodent urine, droppings, dander, hair, or saliva. The deer mouse, white-footed mouse, cotton rat, and rice rat are the most common carriers. Symptoms can include respiratory distress, fatigue, fever, dizziness, and nausea. To prevent exposure to hantavirus, it is important to disinfect before sweeping up areas experiencing rodent activity, wear a respirator mask, and always wear gloves when handling infected material or dead rodents.
Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM): This is a viral disease transmitted through fresh urine and saliva particles from rodents in the air, as well as through direct contact with these materials through the nose, eyes, mouth or broken skin. The house mouse is the primary host of LCM. Early symptoms may include fever, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. If the virus progresses, meningitis and encephalitis may develop.
Plague: Plague is carried by rodents and is usually transmitted by fleas after they take a blood meal. It can also be acquired by handling an infected animal. Wild rodents, rock squirrels, prairie dogs, wood rats, ground squirrels and chipmunks are some of the known carriers. Plague symptoms vary widely between the three forms. Plague was once responsible for killing millions of people during the middle ages, but luckily, it is now uncommon in the U.S. For more questions about plague, see our Plague Q&A.
Prevention of Rodent Health Problems
It is quite apparent that rodent infestations are a health risk, so what can you do? First, seal the exterior of your home to remove entry points that would allow rodents access. Next, trap the existing rodents or hire an exterminator to help rid your home and property of these pests. Lastly, it is important to properly clean up after an infestation. Make sure to do your research on safe methods and always wear a mask and gloves.
If you are having trouble with rodents, Six Brothers Pest Control can help. We have developed a rodent removal system that will reliably get rid of your rodent problems. Six Brothers is a family owned and operated company that wants to earn your business through quality service, excellent customer care, and unmatched safety. Give us a call today.