Dangerous Rats

Dangerous Rats Education and Resource For Removal

Rat Diseases That Affect Humans

One of the biggest concerns that many people will have if they have rats in and around their property is with regards to the type of danger that they pose, and the main threat that rats carry is the diseases that they can transmit to people. While many people will be familiar with the fact that rats were one of the main reasons that the Black Plague became such a problem across Europe in the middle ages, there are many other conditions that they are more likely to transmit these days. While in the majority of cases these diseases aren’t fatal, some can be if left untreated, and others can be particularly dangerous to those with a diminished immune system.

How Do Rats Transmit Disease?

There are several ways in which rats can transmit the diseases they carry, and the one that most people will be aware of is through the bites that they can deliver. Rats will generally look to avoid people rather than bite them, but in some cases where they feel threatened and cannot find an escape route, then they may try to bite people. The other way in which rats can transmit diseases is through their feces and urine. In some cases their urine may pass into water sources, which is a particular concern for those who have water tanks around the property, while even cleaning rat feces can release spores from the fungi found within these pellets.

  • 1. Rat Bite Fever

  • As the name suggests, this is a condition that is generally transmitted by a bite from the rat, but can also be transmitted by other rodents as well. The disease is quite common for those who have been bitten by a rat, and when it is treated promptly then it rarely becomes a dangerous disease, although it can be in a small number of cases. The most common symptoms experienced for those with the disease include fever, vomiting and chills, while some people may also experience aching muscles and joint pain.

  • 2. Leptospirosis

  • This is a disease that is transmitted through the urine of the rat, and the bacteria remains live as long as the urine is wet, which means it is often contracted from contaminated water sources. The symptoms for most people will include those common for a fever, including headaches, joint pain and rashes. When treated with antibiotics it will generally not develop into a more serious condition. However, where untreated the disease can cause problems including kidney failure, liver damage, bleeding in the lungs and even meningitis.

  • 3. Salmonella

  • This is one of the most common bacteria found around the world, and can be transmitted in a variety of ways as it is found in the feces and urine of rats carrying the disease. The condition is not usually fatal apart from in cases where the individual has a weakened immune system, but the symptoms are certainly unpleasant, and will commonly include diarrhea and vomiting. In many cases it can be mistaken for simple food poisoning, so it is difficult to identify how common it is for rats to transmit salmonella to people.

  • 4. Hantavirus

  • Also known as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, this is a relatively rare but disease which is transmitted by cotton rats and deer mice through their feces. The spores from the virus can become airborne when the feces is disturbed, which can then be inhaled by those that are in the area. The symptoms start off similar to the flu, with a fever, muscle pain and headaches, but as the condition develops it can lead to a shortness of breath leading to a pulmonary edema, which is fatal in over a third of cases.

Charles Darwin Foundation 
International Animal Rescue  
Attic Rat