Has a rat chased you onto a chair? Women on chairs and chasing rats with brooms is a common theme for laughter in many old movies and cartoons; however, in real life, rats are a cause for concern. While many people keep rats as pets, pet rats are, for many reasons, unlikely to cause disease. (Especially if kept in a cage, and you wash your hands after handling it.) If you have a strange rat in your home, you need to attack the problem, and quick.
What diseases can be caused by rats?
While you aren’t likely to get the plague in Texas or Louisiana from a rat (although not unknown in the western United States), there are still many diseases you can contract here. The five most common Illnesses that you can contract directly from rats here in the United States are:
1) Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)
Like many illnesses, early signs can be mistaken for flu-like symptoms as they are muscle aches and fever. Late signs of the Hantavirus which appear 4 to 10 days after contracting the virus include shortness of breath and the feeling of smothering as the lungs fill with fluids. Hantavirus can be fatal, and about 38% of cases are. If you have been in contact with a rat, and you start feeling achy and feverish, it is a good idea to consult with a physician.
In addition to the flu-like symptoms caused by so many illnesses, this one can cause jaundice and red eyes. (Red eyes? Is the rat trying to convert you into a rat?) Leptospirosis, left untreated, can cause kidney damage, liver failure, meningitis, respiratory problems, and yes, even death.
3) Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM)
The good news is this one is not usually fatal. Many people experience no symptoms at all. However, LCM can cause meningitis, encephalitis, and many other problems affecting your brain and neuro systems and requiring surgical intervention of placing shunts in the brain. Still not a disease you want to catch.
4) Rat Bite Fever
In the United States, Streptobacillus moniliformis is the likely bacteria involved. RBF is another disease that you may initially mistake for the flu. Since this one usually also causes vomiting, you may believe it is food poisoning. And, in a way, it is. Complications from this disease include liver and kidney damage, pneumonia, meningitis, and infections involving the heart. Approximately 1 in 10 people who contract RBF die.
Tularemia’s symptoms and effects are varied, depending on the mode of transmission. The scary part is you can contract Tularemia by breathing in the bacteria F. tularensis. While Tularemia can be life-threatening, antibiotics are an effective cure.
How do I prevent catching a disease from a rat in my home?
This list only represents the diseases that can be contracted directly from rats. There are far more when you add in conditions caught indirectly from rats, meaning the fleas they carry and so forth.
If you have a rat in your home, make sure you wash and clean all exposed areas, especially in the kitchen. However, rat droppings in your insulation are one place often overlooked by homeowners. If a rat has been chewing through your insulation, the best advise is to use an exterminator experienced in replacing and cleaning insulation damaged by rats.
Getting rid of a rat yourself can be ill-advised. Calling a professional exterminator helps prevent many of the problems associated with rats.
If you develop any symptoms following finding a rat in your home, you should see a physician promptly.
How do I get rid of a rat?
Many people try traps or poison to get rid of a rat in there home. Many rats like to steal the bait out of traps and go on their merry way. And rats seem to know not to eat the poison. These critters are smart and can be much more challenging to get rid of than you believed. I remember one rat where the homeowner had tried everything. Everynight, this rat seemed to take over the run of the house. The rat chewed through boxes to get the food, munched plants known to be poisonous (but didn’t die), chewed through insulation under the stove, tossed plants and other items on the ground, left rat dropppings in the sink and more. The homeowner began to wonder if it was one rat, or the rat was throwing a party with all its rat friends at night. While it did seem to be causing quite a bit of havoc, it did turn out to be a single rat. However, no matter what the homeowner tried, the rat continued to be a problem. It avoided all traps and poison.
Given the diseases they can carry, it is wise to hire a professional who knows how to safely and quickly rid you of that rat. The experience of Bug You Not pest is unequalled to rid you of all sorts of critters. We also help clean and repair any insulation damage and use rat exclusion techniques to prevent further problems with rats and other critters entering your home. If you have a rat or other critter in your home, call us!