Rats and other rodents can carry deadly diseases which can be transmitted to humans. Here are the most common ways rodents can transmits diseases:
- Bites and scratches
- Rat urine infecting open wounds
- Dead rat in water sources
- By infecting human foods with droppings
- Indirectly, by mites and slugs
Here are the top 6 rat-borne diseases you should be aware of:
1. Rat Lung worm disease
Rat lung worm disease (Angiostrongylus Cantonensis) is a deadly parasite carried by rats and other rodents. Snails and slugs are infected with the disease when they come in contact with infected rat feces. People are often infected when they eat raw infected snails or slugs, contaminated lettuce, fruits or other leafy vegetables.
Common symptoms of the disease include tingling or pain in the skin, a stiff neck, vomiting, headaches, nausea, and fever. The disease can cause permanent disability and coma. In some extreme cases, the disease causes an infection of the brain called Eosinophilic Meningoencephalitis and death.
How to prevent rat lung worm disease
- Avoid eating raw slugs or snails.
- Make sure snails and slugs are thoroughly cooked before eating
- Monitor infants and kids in environments where they may come in contact with snails or slugs
- Wash fresh lettuce and vegetables thoroughly before eating
- Wash your hands well after handling snails or slugs and after gardening
- Consider controlling vermin around your home as well as snails and slugs around gardens and vegetable patches
Salmonellosis is a bacteria illness carried by domestic and wild rats. The disease is transmitted to humans through contact with rat urine and feces. In human, the disease causes gastrointestinal problems such as stomach cramps, fever and diarrhea.
In mild cases, most adults recover without any severe long-term problems as the illness often last 4 -7 days. However, in severe cases, the infection spreads through the entire body as it enters the bloodstream through the intestine.
3. Rat-bite Fever
Contact with rats can result in rat bites or scratches. Rat-bite fever is usually transmitted when a rat bites a person. Also, contact with rat feces, urine or scratches can cause rat-bite fever. Spirillary and Streptobacillary are the two different types of rat-bite fever.
The symptoms of Streptobacillary infection are fever, joint and muscle pain, rash, and vomiting. Also, a Spirillary infection can result in rash, swollen lymph nodes and recurring fever.
4. Weil’s Disease (Leptospirosis)
Weil’s disease also known as Leptospirosis is a common bacterium that many rats carry and shows no symptoms of the infection. Humans are infected when mucous membranes come in contact with contaminated rat feces or urine.
Symptoms of Weil’s disease in infected people include muscle ache, fever, rash, vomiting and headache. While some infected people can show very few of the symptoms of the disease, the effect of the infection can be very severe in others.
5. Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)
HPS is a fatal disease carried by rats and transmitted to humans through saliva, droppings or urine. Also, humans can contract the infection through breathing in aerosolized virus. While the disease is rare, it is potentially fatal.
6. Murine Typhus
Murine typhus disease is transmitted to humans by rat fleas. Flea-infested rats spread the disease as they roam and travel around human surroundings. People who visit rat-infested homes or buildings especially in riverine environments or harbor can be at risk of contracting the Murine Typhus infection.
Flea-infested rats that carry the disease are often found throughout the year in humid tropical regions. However, in temperate environments, these rats are common in warm summer months.