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Do You Know the Wormy Truth About Rats?

The rat

Everyone knows rats don’t make great tenants because they carry loads of bacteria, but how about parasitic worms? Rat lungworm—or Angiostrongylus cantonensis, if you want to get official—is a parasitic worm that targets rats through their food sources. If that sounds scary already, wait until you hear this: In rare cases, humans can catch rat lungworm through contact with infected foods.

Since we’re talking about rats, you’re probably wondering what eating infected foods has to do with rodent infestations, and that’s a very good question. Here’s how the exchange works:

1. Rats that are infected with an adult form of the rat lungworm parasite pass the parasite’s larvae through feces.

2. Slugs and snails munch on the droppings, picking up the infection hiding inside.

3. Rats then eat the infected slugs and snails, bringing the cycle back to step one.

The interesting thing about this infection is that it works its way up to humans through the infected snails and slugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children who sometimes swallow slugs and cultures where snails are widely used in cuisine are at a higher risk for contracting rat lungworm. If neither situation applies to you, don’t think you’re safe. Accidentally eating lettuce and raw vegetables that contain tiny snails can be enough to get you sick.

The good news is that rat lungworm isn’t contagious to other humans, and most people who have it recover without any medical intervention. Still, who wants to end up swallowing a parasitic worm? If rat lungworm isn’t on your wish list, the best way to avoid catching the infection is to keep rats off your property, especially if you have a garden that doubles as a pantry for cooking ingredients.

Here’s what you can do to protect your home from rodent infestations all year long:

• Seal your home up tight. The goal is to block every point of entry to prevent rodents from moving in. Your home’s foundation, doors, windows and basement are common areas where rodents sneak through.

• Keep your yard clean and clear of debris. Outdoor staples like wood piles and cardboard make great nesting grounds for all types of rodents.

• Store trash in a locked container. Rodents are more likely to head to homes that have plenty of open food sources.

• Call a professional exterminator if you spot any rodents on your property. Because they reproduce very quickly, you need to take action fast.

Want professional help with rodent control? Contact ABC Home & Commercial Services directly or take a look at our homepage for more information about our comprehensive services in the Bryan-College Station area.

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