Mouse isolated on white background

5 deadly diseases rats and mice carry

Jane Wilson,, а freelance writer who is passionate to help people with easy tips shared with Healthy Lombard that we all loved watching Tom & Jerry as kids, and to be honest, most of us were always on Jerry’s side. Rooting for the underdog was always in human nature, and when it comes to a kids’ cartoon, it’s only logical to take the side of the poor, small and defenceless mouse. However, growing up, you understand that a mouse in the house is never the hero. Actually, that’s a great way to know if you’re already an adult. If you cheer for the mouse, you obviously never have found one lurking in your food supply, eating your belongings and running your property’s value to the ground. 

While the harmless mischief Jerry did, were, without a doubt, hilarious, and we all spent hours laughing at Tom’s misery, in reality, mice, rats and other rodents are extremely dangerous. Even though they pale in size compared to other mammals, they are by far one of the deadliest, not because of their ferocity but because of the diseases they carry. Here are the 5 most dangerous among them.

Hantavirus

This life-threatening virus can be transmitted to humans via inhalation of rodent excrements, urine or saliva. There are plenty of those whenever there is a rat or mouse infestation. The pests don’t shy away from doing their business everywhere.

“Rats and mice can climb almost all surfaces. They constantly pee and poo, which may contaminate food, fluids or anything that gets in touch with them”, points out Neel Patel, one of Fantastic Services’ top pest controllers in Australia. 

Thankfully there is no human-to-human transmission, but in Europe, the risk of infection is not minimal. It typically happens in small towns, where the bank voles and the yellow-necked mouse mostly live. The peak of the virus is during the autumn months when rodents are most likely to attack urban areas. 

The symptoms are anything but pleasant. They include high fever, general fatigue, and severe muscle aches, which predominantly target the lower back, hips, and thighs. Diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and abdominal pain are also among the frequently suffered symptoms. 

Thankfully, there is a cure for the disease, but unfortunately, the virus is severely underdiagnosed, and sadly the fatality rate is around 38%.

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV)

LCM is a dangerous viral infection of the cerebrospinal fluid and the brain and spinal cord membranes. The scariest part is that the primary host of this deadly virus is the common house mouse. There are more than 5.4 million mice in the UK, and they are one of the most common pest problems in Great Britain. A Fantastic Services, one of the biggest pest control services deliverers, a study has shown that over the past two years, the calls for pest control regarding mice have significantly increased.  

There are two stages in LCM. The first one starts with a lack of appetite. Then, it continues progressing with headaches, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting. When LCM enters the second phase, it starts affecting the nervous system of the diseased. It leads to meningitis, encephalitis, or meningoencephalitis.

While the virus is rarely fatal for grown-ups, for children aged under 21 months, the fatalities count up to 35%. In addition, the disease is extremely dangerous for pregnant women, as the virus affects the foetus.

The Plague

Yes, we mean the actual disease that killed off a quarter of the population back in the 14th century. Thankfully, there is a cure for this insidious disease today, but in the 14th century, the mortality rate reached up to 90% in some urban areas. The devastation was so unprecedented that it single-handedly ended feudalism. 

If you think that this dangerous disease is eradicated, guess again. There was a vast bubonic plague outbreak in DR Congo in April of 2022, with several thousand affected. Yes, that’s not too threatening, but getting infected is only one rat’s flea bite away. 

There are three main types of plague – Bubonic (which caused worldwide devastation in the 14th century), Septicemic, and Pneumonic. Each one is dangerous, and if left untreated, the mortality rate is between 30 and 60 per cent. Even though modern medicine prevents fatalities (there were only 2 in 2022 so far), going through the illness is definitely not something you’d look forward to.

 Rat bite fever

While the disease sounds a bit like the next big dance move invented by Kanye West, in reality, Rat bite fever is much less fun. As you probably have guessed by the name, the only way to get this dangerous disease is by getting bit by a rat. That, however, is not entirely accurate, as you may get infected by simply holding a rodent that carries the virus. 

Typically people restrain from catching rats with their bare hands, but many would get rid of a dead mouse in such a manner, and that’s enough to get the disease. 

The symptoms progress quickly, starting with a rash and high fever and continuing with vomiting, headaches, and muscle pain. Unfortunately, around 13% of those who conduct the virus will die, which is enough of a reason not to deal with rodents yourself but ask for a professional to take the risk for you. 

Tularemia

Although the disease is widely known as rabbit fever, it can be carried by rats and mice as well. Contact with the infected animal is enough to get this horrendous disease, although it can be transferred via deer flies or ticks. Most cases occur during summer, but during autumn, when mice and rats typically attack the urban areas, there is also a surge in such cases. 

Although the incubation period is 14 days, typically, human infections become apparent in the first 3-5 days. The symptoms include lack of appetite, high fever, lethargy, signs of sepsis and, in some severe cases – death. Though there is an effective treatment with strong antibiotics, the virus kills around 60% of the infected if left unchecked. Even if there is treatment, going through the disease is no picnic at all, and most often, infected people are admitted to a hospital and are closely monitored. 

 

How to prevent from getting infected

There are several key ways to prevent getting into the statistics as the next victim of one of these diseases. First and foremost, you need to wash everything thoroughly before you eat. Wash canned drinks and food before touching your lips to them, and most importantly, don’t ever handle any rodents with bare hands, no matter if they are as cute as Jerry or as horrific as Ratigan. When you have a pest problem, the best solution is to call a professional. Saving a few bucks by getting rid of the problem yourself is way too risky and, more often than not, ineffective. So just be smart and hire a professional. 

Image by Shutterbug75 from Pixabay

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