Rats are not only a nuisance regarding how they trample through attics, scratch the floors, and cause a commotion, but they also are renown for spreading over 35 sickly diseases. Whether it is an airborne disease or a bite, we’ve got you covered for what to do if your animals get infected, how to prevent disease in the first place, and some common diseases to look out for.
Types of Diseases
Diseases can be transferred from a rat’s saliva, feces, or urine, rate bites, scratches, and contact with dead rats. Particles from rat feces can disperse in the air, and a pet (or human) might get sick from simply inhaling these particles. This is not something to be taken lightly, since rats poop an average of 70 times a day. Here are a few common diseases caused by rats indirectly (aka no contact with the rat, but perhaps contact with something else that has touched the rat):
- The bubonic plague, aka black death or the notorious “Black Plague” is spread when fleas jump off rats onto the body and bite the skin.
- Hantavirus occurs when someone comes in contact with rat urine, feces, or a carcass, which can be transmitted through dust floating in the air. Symptoms include breathing difficulties and immobility.
- Colorado tick fever transmits to pets if when a tick that has previously sucked blood from a wood rat bites them.
- When a sand fly feeds on a rat and then bites a pet, this skin parasite is called cutaneous leishmaniasis.
Of course, there are a bunch more diseases indirectly caused by rats, and here are some that happen directly caused by the pests:
- When water is infected by rat’s urine, pets (mostly dogs) can obtain leptospirosis by swimming in water or rolling in mucky soils.
- Rat-bite fever transmits when a pet is bitten or scratched, or if they come in contact with a dead rat.
- Rat feces that contacts water or food that is consumed by a pet causes salmonellosis.
How to Prevent It
In order to prevent a horrible disease caused by rats from ever infecting your furry friend, there are a few precautions to take, such as staying on top of vaccinations and rat-proofing your home.
To rat-proof your home, seal small spaces, set up traps to catch existing rodents living amongst you and your pets, and maintain cleanliness in order to stay aware of any rat droppings and ensure infected dust isn’t inhaled into your lungs.
What to Do if Your Pet Gets Infected
Pay close attention to your pet to notice any differences in behavior, fur problems, a fever, yellow eyes, etc. so they receive the quickest treatment possible. Also, don’t allow them to spend time rolling around in smelly, dirty swamps that seem contaminated.
Depending on the disease, your pet may merely be uncomfortable for a few days, which they may be prescribed medication for, or a serious disease with terminal consequences might infect them unless caught quickly. Take note of any symptoms, and contact your veterinarian with every detail possible!