Rats, mice, and other forms of urban wildlife can cause considerable damage to your home by not only the physical damage they do, but also by the waste products they leave behind. They can render a work or living space unsanitary in a relatively short amount of time.
Many types of urban wildlife can become pests of structures. The most common ones are rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, opossums and armadillos. These pests can harbor a number of pathogens in their urine and fecal material that can be transmitted to both humans and their pets. Worldwide, rats and mice are known to spread over 35 diseases. Rodent-borne diseases can be spread to humans through bite wounds, consuming food or water that has been contaminated with rodent feces, coming in contact with surface water contaminated with rodent urine, or even through breathing in germs that may be present in rodent urine or droppings that have been stirred into the air by someone moving through an attic or a crawl space (a process known as "aerosolization").
Some of the diseases that are associated with rodents are:
- Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is a rodent-borne virus that is spread through the inhalation of rodent urine or fecal particles.
- Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM) is a viral disease that people can get by either inhaling infectious airborne particles of rodent urine, feces, or saliva, or by ingesting food contaminated with the virus.
- Rat-bite fever is a bacterial illness that can be transmitted through the bite or a scratch by a rodent or by ingesting food or water contaminated with rodent feces.
- Leptospirosis is a bacteria that is transmitted by eating food or drinking water contaminated with urine from infected animals.
ABC recommends following these guidelines to avoid a problem when your home is invaded.
- Wash your hands often with warm water and soap. This is especially important after entering a space that may be contaminated with rodent urine or droppings.
- Note any changes in the behavior of your pets. Consult a veterinarian if they begin acting unusually.
- Avoid contact with food or water that you suspect has been contaminated by rodent urine or droppings.
- Avoid sweeping or vacuuming up rodent droppings. If you MUST remove them, spray them down with a bleach solution and utilize a vacuum with a HEPA filter, or hire a professional to handle the clean up for you.
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