What diseases do rats carry?
One of the biggest concerns of a rodent infestation is the fact that rats and mice are infamous carriers—and transmitters—of dangerous diseases. Rodent-borne diseases can be spread either directly (exposure to infected droppings, urine, or bites) or indirectly (transmitted through infected ticks, mites, or fleas). There are over 35 diseases spread by rats and mice worldwide. Some of the most common ones include:
- Rat-bite fever
- Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV)
- Colorado tick fever
- Lyme disease
Dangerous Diseases Spread by Rats & Mice
Out of the many diseases carried by rodents, there are four in particular that have the most cause for concern here in the Florida area and nationwide:
- Hantavirus. Most often found in the urine and feces of deer mice, hantavirus can cause symptoms from fever and chills to aches in pains. In serious cases or when it is not treated, it can lead to shortness of breath and kidney failure.
- Salmonella. When rats and mice walk over surfaces, they are tracking dirt and bacteria across other food surfaces. Salmonella, commonly referred to as food poisoning, can cause severe stomach cramps, vomiting, and worse.
- Rat-bite fever: RBF can be passed through bites and scratches from an infected rodent, alive or dead.
- Bubonic plague: This infamous disease, which is mostly transmitted by domestic rats, is carried by fleas that have been feeding on infected rats before spreading it to humans.
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How Do Rodents Contaminate Food?
These diseases can be spread to people directly or indirectly. When spread directly, a person has typically come into contact with rat or mouse droppings, saliva, or urine. This is especially dangerous for the food industry who must take extra precautions to prevent rodents from contaminating surfaces. One study suggests that at least 20 percent of the world’s food is eaten or contaminated by rodents every year! Due to this, Salmonella is one of the most common diseases people get after contact with rodents.
Signs of Disease From Rats or Mice
Whether transmitted directly through human contact or indirectly through fleas and ticks, these diseases can cause mild to serious symptoms. Some of the most concerning symptoms to keep an eye out for include shortness of breath, muscle pains, fever, headache, ulcers, dizziness, and abdominal problems (vomiting or nausea). If you suspect you’ve come into contact with rodents and are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to always consult a medical professional.