Rodents such as rats or mice may be a major source of different infective agents which can be transmitted to humans and cause serious health issues. These animals may infest households and contaminate certain items with their urine. For example, rats may urinate in cooking utensils which if used without being previously washed, may contribute to spread of certain infections. Even direct bite of these animals may be a cause of infection.
Different Infectious Diseases Associated with Rats
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a lethal disease which can be easily contracted if an individual comes in contact with infected rat urine, droppings or saliva. In humans infection fully develops once aerosolized virus is inhaled. Fortunately, HPS is rater rare and can be properly prevented with an adequate rodent control.
This is a frequent infection present all around the world. It is transmitted from infected rats to human by the bite of rat fleas. The disease is common for tropical countries and predominantly occurs during humid seasons and warm summer months. Apart from being a threat to local population the infection may be transmitted to travelers who visit the endemic countries.
Rat-bite fever is bacterial infection that affects the entire body and is caused by Streptobacillus monoliformis. The bacteria are transmitted via bite or a scratch of an infected animal or it develops after consumption of food/water contaminated with rat feces. This infectious disease leads to a variety of symptoms including fever, severe headache, nausea, vomiting and pain in the back and/or joints.
Salmonella Enterica serovar Typhimurium
This infectious disease resembles typhus and is not as severe as it is S. Typhus, therefore it is not fatal either. Patients commonly suffer from nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and start to feel much better after a week. This is not a life-threatening condition in healthy people although it can be quite severe and dangerous for immunocompromised individuals.
Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that predominantly affects animals and it can be also transmitted to humans. Once the bacterium, a member of the genus Leptospira enters the body it induces a variety of symptoms some of which are high fever accompanied by chills, severe headache, muscle ache, jaundice, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and rash. If not treated or if inadequately treated, leptospirosis progresses and may eventually cause serious kidney damage and meningitis as well as respiratory or liver failure.
Eosinophilic meningitis is a condition which may be associated with infective agents or develop due to other factors. In some people the condition develops as a consequence of worm infestation and rats may be hosts of some types of worms capable of causing this inflammatory disease.