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What diseases do Rats carry?

Rats carry bacteria and viruses which can cause infections harmful to health in humans and even our pets.

Rats are said to be responsible for more human deaths than any other mammal on earth. They can transmit a multitude of diseases, including Hepatitis C and C difficile, and their astonishing rates of reproduction mean that a male and a female rat can produce 15,000 offspring in a single year.

Did you know we help thousands of customers get rid of rats each year – call us for a free quote on 0800 234 3140

In India, during the mid-1990s, there was a major outbreak of bubonic plague, the disease which killed over 25 million people in the Middle Ages. Not only do rats carry infection-causing organisms, but they act as hosts to ectoparasites such as fleas, ticks, lice and mites which cause many more diseases.

Black Rat

The main types of diseases carried by rats in the UK

Experts estimate that there are approaching 60 million rats in the UK. In a country with a population of just over 66 million people, that’s a huge number.

Rats are a very serious risk to public health and thrive in our sewers, neglected alleyways, overflowing bins and litter-strewn public spaces.

Although the Black Death is not currently found in the UK, or on the fleas living on British rats, there have been outbreaks around the world, notably in Africa, Asia, South America and the USA.

List of diseases that rats carry:

  • Weil’s disease – a form of leptospirosis which results in headaches and muscle pain and in severe cases can cause meningitis and kidney failure;
  • Salmonella – a bacteria which causes upset stomachs, diarrhoea, fever and pain;
  • Tuberculosis – the disease which attacks the lungs;
  • Foot and mouth disease – affects humans, cattle and sheep;
  • E.Coli – the intestinal bacteria which causes a variety of symptoms including fatigue, nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhoea;
  • Cryptosporidiosis – a parasite-borne intestinal disease;
  • Hantavirus – causes a severe flu-like illness;
  • Listeria – causing high temperatures, aches, pains, vomiting, diarrhoea;
  • Toxoplasma gondii – which can cause a glandular fever type illness or flu-like symptoms.

There are a variety of other diseases and nasties that we can pick up from rats, including tapeworms, rat bite fever and typhoid.

Preventing disease from rats

Humans can contract disease from rats through a variety of ways. These include bites, scratches, direct contact with excreta, inhaling airborne particles, drinking infected water, or eating contaminated food. We can also pick up ticks, fleas and lice and our dogs and cats can also become infected.

Taking measures to proof your home from a rat infestation will reduce the risk of infection, both from live rodents and from their droppings and urine.

One of the other key ways to avoid transmission of potentially serious diseases carried by rats is to steer clear of handling a dead rodent. Dead rats carry a range of diseases and should only be handled wearing gloves, a mask and treating the area with disinfectant.

For any rat infestation, it is always recommended that a professional pest control company be contacted.

All of our technicians are trained in rat control and have access to professional products which are not available to the public.

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