What diseases do rats carry?

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There are so many things to worry about when you have a rat invasion in your property, and although damage is one of the more costly side effects of these rodent visitors, the disease threat is often one of the biggest causes of concern. Quite rightly too, as these are animals that can bring with them a whole range of rather nasty diseases, none of which you will want you, or your family members, to come into contact with.

Tamed / domesticated mice and rats will generally not carry these diseases, but wild rats are known to spread or carry them, and they can be spread to tamed / domesticated rats and other rodents if the two kinds come into contact with each other. Some of the diseases that they carry can also be passed onto your household pets, particularly when you’re talking about problems such as ticks and fleas, and some of the diseases can even be passed onto you and your family members. They can prove to be especially dangerous for the elderly and young children, and also those who are also ill, particularly with a weakened immune system.



Weil’s disease, also known as Leptospirosis, is often present in rats, and infected animals will often show very little, even zero signs, of infection. This illness is a bacterial one, and both humans and other animals can become infected when they have come into contact with feces and urine from an infected rat. It can bring with it some rather nasty symptoms, and these include muscle aches and pains, a rash over the skin, vomiting, a fever, headaches, and more.

The disease will affect different people in different ways, and those who are already suffering with a weakened immune system will often be among the worst infected. Often confused with the flu or a common cold, especially in its earlier stages, it can prove fatal to some patients, and totally unnoticeable in others. It’s just not worth taking the risk.

Salmonella poisoning is another very nasty bug that rats can bring with them, and both wild rats and domestic rats can actually carry this bacteria. We’ve probably all suffered with the bug at some point in our lives, and it’s easy to see why it wouldn’t be pleasant to invite this into your home. Causing a very nasty upset stomach, with vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, a fever, and more, it usually passes after a few days, but some patients can find that they suffer with symptoms for a few weeks. After being infected, symptoms will generally materialize within a few days – 12 – 72 hours. The average time for symptoms to last is less than a week, but dehydration can often cause complications, and may require a spell in hospital. In the worst of cases, without the right treatment, it can prove fatal.

Rats can pass on salmonella poisoning through their feces and urine, much like Leptospirosis, and that’s why a thorough cleanup operation is vital after you have had a rat invasion.

Rat-bite fever is another disease often passed on through rats, but, just as the name suggests, this one tends to be passed on through a bite from a rat. It can, however, be passed on through scratches, and also through the urine and feces of an infected rat. Most people aren’t unlucky enough to get that close. People would much rather run away from rats generally, and the same works in the other direction – rats would much rather scamper away than stay and fight.

Rat-bite fever can come in two forms – spirillary and streptobacillary. The latter will bring symptoms similar to nausea and vomiting, a fever, muscle pain and a rash, while the spirillary infection often brings the same rash, but with a fever that recurs, and swollen lymph nodes also.

As you can see, it’s often the feces and urine of the rats that pose the biggest problems in the realms of disease threats. That’s why rat removal is actually the smallest part of the job – it’s the cleanup and repair work that often causes the biggest loss to time, and money also. You’ll be happy to know that those are just two parts of the full service that we offer so you don’t need to worry about it.

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If you have any questions or comments, e-mail me at david@attic-rat.com