What Diseases Do Rats Carry?

Rats, they’re not everyone’s favorite animal. These furry little pests are often regarded as troublesome by everyone from homeowners to restaurant owners. And for good reason! Although they can often look harmless and may even appear cute to some, rats will sometimes carry with them illness and disease, which can spread to us humans and to other animals in the vicinity. If you are worried about rats in your place of residence or business and want to learn more about some of the potential dangers that come with their presence, here is a guide that will provide you with more information on what type of rat diseases can prove problematic should you find yourself faced with a rat invasion.

A look into some of the most well-known diseases associated with rats

While others are more discussed than others, there are actually quite a few diseases that are a direct consequence of some type of contact with rats. Unfortunately, a rat virus not only affects the people in the immediate area but has the potential to harm pets as well. Here are some of the most notable diseases you may come across:

  • Hantavirus or Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome: Both of these diseases can be contracted from a rat but the severity of the symptoms varies. Those who have Hantavirus will often experience symptoms such as fatigue, fever, and muscle pain and weakness, to name a few. If this condition is allowed to progress, an individual who has been infected may end up developing a rat respiratory infection known as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, which is a deadly disease that affects the lungs of the afflicted. While there is no cure, immediate medical care can reduce the impact of the infection.
  • Rat-Bite Fever: As the name suggests, those who come in contact with rats that have this type of disease will often end up feeling feverish as a result. Other symptoms of Rat-Bite fever include rashes on the skin, headaches, vomiting, and muscle pain. Fortunately, this one is not as deadly as the previous disease and can be cured with antibiotics.
  • Salmonellosis: People who hear the name of this disease often think to themselves, isn’t Salmonella a bacteria that you can get from food? It is! However, unfortunately, Salmonella is also something that you might be exposed to by a rat as well. Salmonellosis caused by rats produces the same symptoms that you would expect to see if you were exposed to the bacteria in food with symptoms including cramps in the abdominal area, chills, fever, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. Severe cases may require antibiotics but most infected only need to make sure to drink fluids.
  • Tularemia: Although the name can seem a little scary, Tularemia isn’t too much of a problem in those who contract it. While it is easy to get if you don’t take the right precautions, the only symptom that everyone commonly experiences is a fever. This fever can be dangerous if left untreated but the disease itself is very much curable with antibiotics. Tularemia is yet another disease that only requires antibiotics.
  • Plague: It’s unfortunate but the plague that was responsible for killing millions of people in Europe and other countries is alive and well today and this disease is carried in rats. While the plague is generally perceived to be one singular illness, the plague actually comes in several forms: Bubonic, Pneumonic, and Septicemic. Symptoms include dangerous health complications such as lesions on the skin, difficulty breathing, and necrosis of the skin and limbs. This disease is carried by fleas on rats and immediate medical help with antibiotics is needed to make sure that it doesn’t become fatal.
  • Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus: Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus, or LCMV for short, is arguably one of the most dangerous on this list as it is deadly but manages to sneak up on those who are infected. Those who have LCMV first experience flu-like symptoms including vomiting, nausea, muscle aches, headaches, and a lack of appetite. However, LCMV quickly changes its direction and manifests as neurological symptoms that you would commonly find in diseases such as encephalitis, meningitis, and meningoencephalitis. It’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible with this type of disease. Anti-inflammatory drugs are often given to lessen the severity of the disease.
  • Angiostrongylus Cantonensis: Better known as rat lungworm disease, this parasite is found in the lungs of rats and are reproduced and then passed on through rat feces. Rat lungworm symptoms are not at all dangerous and typically produce little to no symptoms at all. However, some may find themselves facing eosinophilic meningitis, which includes symptoms such as tingling throughout the body, low-grade fever, and vomiting. Treatment is typically not necessary with this condition.

One major question that comes up when reviewing these diseases is, do rats carry rabies? While it is logical to think that you may be able to find this disease in a rat, most small mammals are not known to either carry or transmit the virus to humans or animals, which is most certainly good news when it is taken into consideration how many diseases rats can already cause.

While this is by no means a comprehensive list that covers every disease that can be carried by rats, the diseases listed are some of the most common that individuals may end up contracting if they have a rat invasion in their home or place of business and conveys the type of rat infestation health risks that exist. This brings us to our next question…

How does one become infected with these diseases?

Not every rat infestation results in infection but there is always potential, why is this? This is due to the fact that there are certain ways in which diseases are contracted by humans and animals. Among the ways that you can contract a rat disease includes touching rat feces, which could relate in a rat poop disease or eating contaminated food, which could result in rat food poison, touching rat urine and contracting a rat urine disease, breathing in infected air, being bitten or scratched by an infected rat, or handling the corpse of an infected rat improperly. It’s important to make sure to be careful when trapping rats or when dealing with rats in another control method and to have a professional deal with the issue if it is out of your control.

Rat invasions can certainly be concerning and learning more about the related disease that you could possibly contract, even more so. Not only are the diseases that rats carry dangerous but if you don’t know how to safely use rat poison you also risk accidentally causing health problems for yourself, your family or pets. Use the guide above to better educate yourself on the risks of a rat invasion and check out the information about what is the best way to get rid of rats.

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