What Diseases Do Rats Carry?

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Rats carry and can transmit many diseases, and you can read about some of the more common ones that are endemic to North America in what follows. Rats can transmit diseases directly, either via their waste or through direct contact with the animal, or they can transmit diseases indirectly, via parasitic agents that feed on all sorts of animals, including rodents and humans.

  • Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. A virus that spreads through breathing in contaminated dust, direct contact with rat urine or droppings, and more rarely through bite wounds. Symptoms include: fever, headache, muscle ache, dizziness, stomach problems, chills; symptoms such as shortness of breath and lungs filling with fluid will appear after a few days. Treatable, but fatal if left untreated.
  • Leptospirosis. A bacterial diseases that spreads through contaminated food and water, or if skin or mucous membrane is exposed to contact with contaminated water and soil. It can be asymptomatic. Symptoms are numerous, including but not limited to: high fever, headache, muscle ache, chills, vomiting, yellow skin, red eyes, rash, diarrhea etc. Left untreated, it can lead to sever complication, and can be fatal.
  • Plague. A bacterial disease that spreads either through direct contact with an infected rat or through the bite of an infected flea. Symptoms vary depending on the type of plague: bubonic, septicemic, or pneumonic. Endemic to the western part of the country. Treatable if caught early. Can lead to extremely serious illness and death if treatment is not administrated in time.
  • Rat-Bite Fever. An infectious disease that spreads through contact with a dead rat, through contaminated food or water ingestion, or through the bite or scratch of a rat. Symptoms differ depending on which type of Rat-Bite Fever is contracted, streptobacillary or spirillary. Treatable, but fatal if left untreated.
  • Salmonellosis. A bacterial disease that spreads through ingesting contaminated food or water. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. It usually goes away without any treatment, but severe dehydration may require hospitalization;
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis. A virus that spreads through breathing in contaminated dust, direct contact with mouse urine or droppings, and less frequently through bite wounds. Symptoms may include: fever, headache, muscle ache, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting. The disease is treatable, with a mortality rate below 1%.

We can answer the question: Should I ever poison a rodent?

Not all rats carry diseases, I want to be clear on that, but contact should still be kept at a minimum. Preventing rats and other vermin from living, feeding, nesting, and breeding on our properties is paramount in keeping away from disease. Once the first signs of rat infestation appear, measures to eradicate the pest should be taken immediately and without hesitation. Learn more on this website about all you need to do to safely and permanently remove rats from your property, or look through my nationwide directory of rat control experts in order to hire a professional near you who will take care of the problem. For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does rat removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of rats - my main rat removal info guide.
Example rat trapping photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Rat job blog - learn from great examples of rat jobs I've done.

Read more in my educational guides:
Why do rats have tails?
Why do rats exist?
Diseases caused by rats urine
Do More Rats Live in Urban Areas, or Wild Areas?
What to Do About a Trap-Shy Rat
How to make a rat trap
Rats in the subway
What kind of noises and sounds do rats make when they live in your house?
What do rats sound like?
What Are Some of the Symptoms of a Sick Rat?
Should I Ever Poison a Rat?
How to scare a rat away
How To Get Rid Of Rats Without Killing Them
Will Repellents Get a Rat Out of the Attic?
How Do You Remove a Rat Stuck In a Dumpster?
Where Should I Relocate a Trapped Rat?
Do Relocated Rats Survive?
What Do Wildlife Rehabilitators Do with Rats?
Does Poison Make Rats Thirsty And Die Outside?
Are rats dangerous to cats, dogs, or other pets?
Will A Pest Control Company Remove a Rat?
How to Get Rats Out of a Wall

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