While some pests are more of a nuisance, rodents pose a very significant health risk to people living with them in their homes. It is pretty obvious that rodents are unclean and harmful to homes they infest and the people living in them. Not only do rodents carry and spread bacteria, but they also bring other pests into homes and businesses, such as fleas or ticks. Inhalation of dried droppings also pose a risk to your health in more than one way.
One of the earliest documented plagues, the bubonic plague or “Black Death” as it was known in the Middle Ages, was ultimately found to be caused by rodents. The rodents were carrying the flea that infected the human population through their bites. The bubonic plaque was responsible for the death of approximately a third of the entire population of Europe. While there is no longer this type of unchecked outbreak, the plague does still exist and there have been known cases in recent years.
The hantavirus is another potentially life-threatening illness that is spread by rodents. This time it is not through hosting fleas but is found in the rodent’s droppings and urine. The method of transmission among humans is accidental inhalation or exposure to the excrement or saliva of affected rodents, primarily mice in this case. Symptoms include fatigue, fever and chills, followed by cramping, dizziness and headaches. This illness has been fatal for some, and measures should be taken to prevent the spread of the hantavirus. When a community experiences a large number of cases, city or statewide steps have been taken to halt the spread, including public education on protecting yourself when encountering droppings.
Rodents also spread disease by contaminating food that people consume. Two examples of this type of illness salmonellosis and rate-bite fever. Salmonellosis is a type of food poisoning, resulting in fever, diarrhea and pain in the abdomen. You would think by the name that rat-bite fever was caused by being bitten but that is not the case. Once again, it is food contaminated by rodents that is the culprit. This illness can be similar to salmonellosis, but may also result in vomiting, muscle pain, and rashes.
Rats and mice can also cause significant property damage. They can chew through wood, wallboard and even electrical wiring. Some house fires are a result of faulty wiring caused by a rodent infestation.
Prevention and Elimination
Prevention is key when it comes to rodents. Sealing up entry points such as plugging or repairing small holes on the inside or outside of your home. Eliminating attractive nesting sites will also help such as clearing away deep mulch or leaf piles, and bagging garbage before putting in an outside bin. Our homes are particularly vulnerable to these pests during fall and winter months, and they begin seeking warmth and shelter, so vigilance is especially critical at these times. Your local professional pest control company plays an important part in both prevention and elimination if an infestation has already occurred.