Diseases Transmitted By Rats & Mice In The United States

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Rodents can harbor a variety of viruses and bacteria that significantly impact a person’s health through respiratory and gastric illnesses. Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome tends to flood the headlines in the United States , and recently in California, since it can be fatal. However, an infection from this virus is rare in humans.

Rodent droppings seem to be the source of most diseases transmitted by rats and mice. With no surprise, after finding this statistics of rodents being able to produce 25,000 droppings in one year.

Diseases transmitted by rodents can be categorized into two types: Direct and Indirect. Illnesses that occur from inhalation or ingestion of particles that are contaminated with rodent urine or droppings are considered direct transmission. Contracting a disease via bites from parasites that live off rodents is an indirect infection.

This article will provide details of the diseases from rodents found in the United States that are transmitted directly by vermin.

Diseases Spread Directly By Rodents

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome

How It Spreads

Primarily through airborne transmission. Dust particles contaminated by urine or droppings from infected rodents are inhaled or ingested. Bites from rodents with the virus, rare.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms can develop from 1 to 5 weeks after exposure. Fatigue, fever, and muscle aches are early signs. Eventually, coughing and shortness of breath from lungs filling with fluid.

How To Treat

No vaccines or cures have been developed for hantavirus infection. Receiving treatment soon after symptoms develop can alleviate illness and allow treatment to be more effective.

How To Prevent

Eliminate rodents on property and clean areas with droppings or urine with mask, gloves and sanitizer. Keep rodents from returning by removing clutter, food spills, and securing trash cans.


Leptospirosis

How It Spreads

Ingesting food or water contaminated with urine of infected animal. Contact contaminated water or soil with open cuts/scratches or mucous membranes – like inside nose.

Common Symptoms

Two phases of symptoms with second phase being more severe and called Weil’s disease. Fever, chills, headaches, muscles aches, vomiting and diarrhea can occur during first phase.

How To Treat

Antibiotics can treat the infection with a recovery period of a few days to 3 weeks – Several months if untreated. Receiving treatment early can inhibit the second phase symptoms.

How To Prevent

Refrain from swimming or wading in water that can contain urine from infected animals. Wear footwear when outdoors to prevent transmission from contaminated soil or water.


Rat-bite Fever (RBF)

How It Spreads

Transmission can occur from bites or scratches from infected rat, mouse, or gerbil. Handling a rodent with the disease. Ingesting food or drink contaminated with the bacteria.

Common Symptoms

Streptobacillary RBF symptoms include fever, vomiting, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, and rash. Spirillary RBF symptoms include fever, ulcer at bite wound, and swollen lymph nodes.

How To Treat

Antibiotics will effectively treat the infection and cure the disease. If left untreated, the disease can create a severe illness and be potentially fatal – but it is rare.

How To Prevent

Avoid areas with rodent activity and drink only pasteurized milk and water from safe sources. If you handle rodents or carcasses wear protective gloves and don’t touch mouth until after cleaning.


Salmonellosis

How It Spreads

Salmonella naturally lives in intestinal tracts of rodents and other animals. Disease is transmitted by ingesting contaminated food – generally from rat, mice or other rodent feces.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms can last up to 7 days and include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and nausea. Approximately 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States each year.

How To Treat

Recovery period for Salmonella is 5 to 7 days and does not require any medical treatment unless infection spreads from intestines. Drink plenty of fluids to rehydrate and flush out disease.

How To Prevent

Do not consume undercooked meat or raw foods that contain dairy products ( raw eggs or unpasteurized milk. Wash hands thoroughly after handling uncooked food items.

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