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Health hazards caused by Rodents

Rodents can be a huge nuisance. Besides the costly damages, these pests also pose serious health risks.
 
Rodents

The mice and rodents contaminate surfaces around our homes with their urine and feces. This means that bacteria is spread all over our homes and can have devastating results. These droppings can be just as dangerous as coming into contact with the rodents. Do not assume that you are safe because you keep a distance.

Rodents can transmit many diseases whether directly or indirectly. You may suffer from a disease transmitted by a parasite or tick that is carried by the rodent. Be extra vigilant and careful when you suspect a rodent infestation.

When the weather cools down the rodents look for warmer places to nest and our homes become the target. Be on the lookout for any signs. Sights of droppings should be removed immediately as the prevention of an infestation is important.

Below is a summary of health hazards caused due to rodents:


HANTAVIRUS

The virus was first discovered in 1963 in the United States. It originated from the white-footed mouse and the cotton and rice rat. The contents of this virus can cause major harm to the human’s vital organs like kidneys and blood.

Infection can happen in different ways but rodent infestation is the leading way. Transmission occurs when droppings, fresh urine, or any material from the nest mix with air and is inhaled by people. Symptoms start after one to five weeks.

Severe cases are where the Hantavirus progresses to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome which can be fatal. There is not a specific vaccine or treatment available for the Hantavirus infection. Be very careful when handling these pests.

PLAGUE

Caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, this disease affects humans and other mammals. It is transmitted to humans through bites from an infected rodent flea or contact with an affected animal affected by the plague.

The two different known plagues caused by rodents are:
  • Septicemic plague
  • Pneumonic plague
Plague is a dangerous illness and can be treated with various antibiotics if discovered early. The best way to prevent this disease is to avoid contact with rodents. This is the best way to mitigate the spread and infection of the disease.

TULAREMIA

Caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Humans can be infected through bites from ticks and deer flies, contact with infected animals, inhaling contaminated dust, and drinking contaminated water.

The signs will vary depending on how the bacteria have ended up in the body. A majority of infections can be treated with antibiotics and severe cases of Tularemia can be fatal.

Forms of Tularemia in the body include:

  • Ulceroglandular disease where organisms enter the body and cause swelling of the lymph glands.
  • Glandular Tularemia is similar to ulceroglandular tularemia only without the ulcer.
  • Oculoglandular disease is when the bacteria make their way through the eye.
  • Oropharygeal infection occurs as a result of consuming contaminated food or water.
  • Oneumonic infection is the most severe form of tularemia it may occur when the other forms are left untreated.


LYMPHOCYTIC CHORIOMENINGITIS (LCM)

The house mouse is the primary host of this virus. There have been reported cases of contact with this disease from pet rodents. Transmission occurs from contact with fresh rodent droppings, saliva, urine, or material from the nests of infected rodents.

Infections tend to occur more during the cold months when the mice infest our homes in search of warmth.

A majority of patients that suffer from this disease survive. In severe cases, permanent neurological damage can happen. The infection can be passed to the unborn child from pregnant women. Serious birth defects can be experienced especially in pregnancies on the second and third trimesters.

However the mortality rate remains low, rodent control and prevention is the best way to avoid more infections.

Precautionary steps should be taken to ensure the rodents are kept from our homes as the consequences of an infestation may be lethal. Use repellents on ticks and fleas, set up traps for the rodents, and seal all entry points to your home. Be on the lookout for the little clues that may suggest an infestation and immediately solve the issue.