Mice and rats invade millions of homes in the United States during winters. Mice or rat infestation can cause more than just an inconvenience or foul smell. These pests can spread numerous diseases. Some of the diseases spread by rats and mice can even cause death if not treated promptly. Therefore, it makes sense to take all precautionary measures to keep rodents out of your home, all through the year. As and when there’s a mice or rat infestation in your dwelling, do not ignore it or wait until it gets severe; consider hiring professionals for rat and mice control who know how to get rid of rodents safely and effectively.

Listed below are the seven major health risks posed by mice and rat infestations:

Health Risk #1: Exposure to Hantavirus

A potentially life-threatening disease, Hantavirus is transmitted to humans by Deer mouse, Rice rat, cotton rat, and White-footed mouse. Therefore, mice and rat infestations in and around the residential buildings remain the main risk for Hantavirus exposure.

The disease spreads when humans breathe in dust comprising of the particles of rodent droppings or urine. Direct contact with rodent droppings or urine can also spread the disease.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is common in most parts of North and South America. Some of the early symptoms of this disease include fever, fatigue, and muscle aches.

Health Risk #2: Exposure to the Plague Bacterium

Often a deadly disease, Plague is notorious for having killed more than one-third of the human population in Europe in the middle ages. No wonder, it’s referred to as ‘Black Death.’ Even today, the disease requires immediate treatment; it can result in serious illness or death, if not treated on time.

This disease spreads by the bite of an infected flea (carrying the plague bacterium) or when humans come in direct contact with infected animals such as wood rats, fox squirrels, wild rodents, etc.

The disease is common in rural areas of Western United States, South America, Asia, and Africa.

Bubonic plague a form of plague that results from the bite of an infected flea, exhibits symptoms such as the abrupt onset of fever, chills, headache, weakness, and swollen lymph nodes. The plague bacterium multiplies rapidly in a lymph node nearest to where it entered the body. In the absence of timely antibiotic treatments, the bacteria can spread to other parts of the body.

Health Risk #3: Exposure to Salmonellosis

According to WebMD, approximately 40,000 cases of Salmonellosis are reported in the United States each year. The disease is known to occur worldwide.

The disease spreads when humans eat or drink foods and liquids contaminated by rat or mouse feces. Some other sources of the disease bacteria include meat, fertilizers, water, and pets. The disease is a type of food poisoning that exhibits symptoms such as diarrhea, pain & cramping in the stomach, and fever.

The disease is often referred to as ‘salmonella’ the name of the bacteria which causes the infection. Salmonellosis isn’t deadly; the infected human usually gets better in about a week. However, the infection can certainly cause a great deal of discomfort and force you to miss school or work.

Health Risk #4: Exposure to Rat-Bite Fever

Rat-bite fever is often referred to as Haverhill fever.

A potentially fatal contagious disease, rat-bite fever spreads by rodent bite or direct contact with a dead rodent. A scratch wound from an infected rat or eating and drinking food or water contaminated by rat droppings and urine can also cause rat-bite fever.

If not treated on time, rat-bite fever can be serious and even cause death. Some of the common symptoms of rat-bite fever include fever, headache, joint-pain, muscle-pain, vomiting, and rashes. These symptoms usually appear about 3 to 10 days after the contract with the bacteria and may at times be delayed by up to three weeks. By then, the rodent bite, if any, is likely to have healed completely.

The disease occurs worldwide; Streptobacillus moniliformis based rat-bite fever is more common in North America & Europe; Spirillum minus based rat-bite fever is more common in Africa and Asia.

Health Risk #5: Exposure to Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM)

A rodent-borne viral infection, Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM) is caused by lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) virus. House mice happen to be the most common host of this virus. Around 5% of all house mice in the United States carry this virus. The disease occurs worldwide.

Humans are likely to get infected when they inhale the dust contaminated with rodent droppings, urine, saliva, and nesting materials. The disease also spreads when humans come in direct contact with rodent droppings or urine. Although less frequent, bite wounds too can cause Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis.

The symptoms include fever, lack of appetite, headache, nausea, muscle pain, malaise, and vomiting.

The LCM infection is more common during the winter months when mice enter residential buildings seeking warmer habitats and sources of food and water.

Health Risk #6: Lassa Fever

The virus responsible for causing Lassa Fever an acute viral illness – is carried by a multi-mammate rat. The disease is most common in West Africa.

The virus spreads through direct contact, bite wounds or inhalation of particles of rodent droppings and urine. Once a person in the family is infected, the disease can spread to other members of the family through physical contact.

The fever kills around 5,000 people annually. The symptoms include mild fever, weakness, and malaise.

Health Risk #7: Exposure to Tularemia

Inhalation of contaminated dust, direct skin contact or ingestion of contaminated food or water can cause Tularemia. The disease occurs worldwide including the US.

The disease bacteria are carried by wild rodents. Rodents, when infected with Tularemia, die in large numbers.

Final Words

If you’ve had an unpleasant encounter with rats or mice in your home, it is advisable to consider speaking with a Los Angeles Rodent Control expert. These pests are more than just a nuisance. Rats and mice are known to spread around 35 different types of diseases.


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