While they may be cute as cartoon characters, mice and rats are no laughing matter. Like most rodents, they multiply exponentially. If homeowners see one in the house, chances are there are a whole lot more of them. Mice and rats thrive in the filthiest environments imaginable. They adore trash dumps, rotting food, carcasses and fecal-laden sewers. Just the sight of one scurrying along the floor makes most people cringe.
These vivacious creatures are present in just about all places in the world. Disease control experts can only estimate how many human deaths have occurred over the last century due to rodent-borne illnesses.
A majority of homeowners have dealt with rats and mice at least once in their lifetime. They leave the cold of the outside for the warm walls, basements and attics of a house. Mice and rats come into the house in a variety of different ways, ranging from a crack in the siding to a door not being closed all the way.
Rodents chew holes in walls, floors and cabinets to find food. On their jolly travel through the house, they leave a trail of nasty urine and feces. It dries quickly and is virtually invisible. A rat or mouse infestation can be hazardous to humans and pets. Here are some of the most common diseases that they can carry:
1. Food Poisoning (salmonella)
Mice and rats will devour any kind of food in their path. They are also scavengers, which means they eat whatever they can find, which includes carcasses of other animals. Another one of their disgusting trademarks is that they leave tainted saliva, urine and feces in food. They contaminate cabinets, pantries, drawers and even refrigerators. If humans ingest anything touched with rodent feces, they can get sick from salmonella. This food poisoning affects the digestive tract and can make people extremely ill. Food poisoning can be fatal if left untreated—especially for children and elderly people.
2. Rat-Bite Fever
While most rodents can be timid and run away from humans, some can be aggressive fighters if they are cornered. Their saliva contains a multitude of dangerous bacteria due to their eating habits. If a person gets bitten or scratched by a rat, they can get rat-bite fever, which cause persistent fevers for months. This is not extremely common in the United States, but it is not something we should overlook.
3. Rickettsial Pox
There are certain mites that live on rats and mice that cause disease. When these mites bite humans, they can cause lesions, rashes, and fever from Rickettsial pox. It is contagious and can become an epidemic in rat and mouse-infested areas.
4. Lyme Disease
As if fleas and mites were not enough, rats and mice can harbor ticks. The ticks engorge themselves with tainted rodent blood and then bite humans. Lyme disease is serious and is often misdiagnosed. Victims suffer from skin lesions, fever, and painful joints. Lyme disease is the most prominent tick-borne disease in America and is slowly becoming prevalent in more areas of the United States.
Any mammal can carry rabies—especially rodents. Rabies is a terrible disease that affects all the systems in the body, including the brain. Rabid animals literally lose their mind, foam at the mouth, and die. The dangerous thing about rabies in humans is that by the time victims present with symptoms, it is too late to save them. Rabies can be carried by rabid rodent bites or exposure to their dead carcasses.
Although this disease is rare, it can still happen to people. Three people in the Bronx were affected by this disease, causing one death and two illnesses. Leptospirosis spreads through rat urine, which is how those people were exposed to it. People might not get any symptoms at all with this disease. According to the CDC, other health issues caused by leptospirosis includes kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, respiratory distress, and possibly death.
How To Protect A Family From Rodent Disease
The best way to keep a family safe from diseases carried by rats and mice is to keep the pests away in the first place. These are some helpful pointers to keep the nasty critters at bay:
- Seal off any holes or cracks in walls, floors, and ceilings. It is amazing how a rodent can squeeze through the tiniest spaces
- Rodents usually steer clear of cats
- Keep all trash in sealed trash bags and do not let it collect around the house to draw rodents
- Make sure all food is in sealed containers
- If homeowners use traps or poison, they should use heavy-duty gloves to dispose of the carcasses
- Before an infestation starts, homeowners should hire the services of experienced pest control professionals like UltraPro Pest Protection to make sure your home can withstand these rodents.
By following these tips, you can keep yourself and your family safe from these rodents and the diseases they might bring in your home.