Rodent Infestation and Health | Greenleaf Organic Pest Management

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Sep 27, 2017 @ 08:55 AM

6 Ways a Rodent Infestation Could Affect Your Health


Rat or mouse infestations can be annoying, inconvenient, and frustrating. However, some homeowners do not realize that this type of infestation can also be hazardous to their family's health.

While rodents virtually never carry bubonic plague in the modern age, an infestation in your home can have serious medical side effects. The most vulnerable members of your household are the young, elderly, and immunocompromised, but everyone can have negative consequences from proximity to rodents.

In this blog, we list six of the most common ways that a rodent infestation, especially a rat infestation, could affect the health of you and your family members.

1. Allergies

The presence of rodent pests in your home can exponentially increase the allergens in the air, just the way that bringing in a new furry pet might. Rats and mice leave behind fur, dander, and dry droppings that can spread just like dust particles do, namely through the HVAC system and on contaminated surfaces.

Initially these allergens may cause mild reactions similar to seasonal allergens. These symptoms could include irritated eyes, coughing, and congestion.

However, inhaling rodent fecal matter or urine can contribute to serious respiratory issues that may become permanent after long-term exposure. It can also potentially cause some of the other conditions on this list.

2. Hantavirus (HPS)

Hantavirus is contracted after breathing the waste particles of certain rats or by coming close to dead rodents that carry the virus. Individuals can also contract HPS after being bitten by an infected rodent. Hantavirus is generally carried by rice rats, cotton rats, white- footed mouse, and house mice.

HPS most commonly occurs in individuals with weakened or developing immune systems. Children have the highest risk of contraction.

The early stages of hantavirus are very similar to the flu so it is important to seek medical care if you've noticed the signs of a rat infestation and then developed flu-like symptoms. If left unaddressed, hantavirus sufferers could suffer respiratory arrest that can be fatal.

3. Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis, also known as Weil's disease, is a bacterial infection that occurs due to contact with water that is contaminated with certain types of animal urine, including certain species of rat and mouse.

If rats nest close to or travel past a water supply line in your home, the risk of leptospirosis increases. This bacteria could also contaminate stored water. Like hantavirus, the early stages of leptospirosis are similar to the flu. An infected individual might experience chills, fever, headaches, and abdominal pain.

In extreme cases, leptospirosis can lead to renal failure, meningitis, and even death.

4. Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCMV)

Unlike most rodent-carried diseases, lymphocytic choriomeningitis is primarily carried by mice rather than rats. LCMV can be contracted by breathing in excrement, nesting materials, saliva, or urine. It can also be contracted through open wound contact with these substances.

The risk of LCMV is one of the reasons that most mouse removals should be handled by a trained professional. The effects typically appear within one to two weeks of exposure and may include flu-like symptoms with the possibility of glandular pain, testicular pain, and chest pain. Complications of LCMV include serious neurological issues.

5. Rat-Bite Fever (RBF)

While many of the conditions transmitted by rodents occur without contact with the animal, others can happen after direct contact with a furry pest. Rat-bite fever can be contracted after touching a rat carcass or after being bitten or scratched by a rodent.

RBF can wait up to three months before manifesting, but when it does, the condition must be treated promptly or there is a risk of permanent damage. In addition to symptoms similar to hantavirus and leptospirosis, RBH creates swelling and rash on the hands, feet, and joint areas.

6. Salmonellosis

Like leptospirosis, salmonellosis is a bacterial disease. Salmonellosis results from exposure to salmonella bacteria, which occurs most often due to food contamination but can also develop after handling an infected rodent. The risk of infection is particularly high if you come into contact with infected fecal matter.

In most cases, salmonellosis exhibits with diarrhea and vomiting that, while uncomfortable, are not life threatening. However, the extent of these symptoms can cause dehydration and malnutrition that may require hospitalization.

Additionally, individuals who have had salmonellosis are at a higher risk of developing a specific form of arthritis afterward, known as reactive arthritis. Reactive arthritis may turn into a chronic condition for some patients.

This list includes only the most common conditions that can result from an infestation. You should seek medical advisement for any new symptoms that appear after being in proximity to rodent pests.

Additionally, if any member of your family exhibits the symptoms of a rodent-related illness listed above, seek medical help and pest control measures as soon as possible.

The best way to protect your family from the conditions that rodents potentially spread is to safeguard your home against pests with the help of the experts at Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc.