Threats Posed by Rodents: Why rodents are a danger to health and homeMissy Henriksen
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
It’s a challenge to stay healthy during the winter,
especially with the prevalence of the flu and common colds.
Unfortunately, something most people don’t think about this time of
year is the threat posed by rodents to both our health and
property. Rodents invade an estimated 21 million homes in the U.S.
every winter, and an infestation can cause more than just a
headache for homeowners.
During the colder months, rodents such as mice and rats search for food,
warmth and shelter indoors, often entering homes through small
cracks and crevices. However, the real concern is that these pests
can spread diseases and cause serious property damage once
The accumulation of feces from mice and rats can spread
bacteria, contaminate food sources and trigger allergic reactions
in humans. Once the fecal matter becomes dry, it can be hazardous
to those who breathe it in. Moreover, rodent droppings can spread
diseases and viruses, including those listed below.
- Hantavirus– Hantavirus is a potentially life-threatening
disease transmitted to humans by rodents—primarily, the
white-footed deer mouse. People become infected through exposure or
inhalation of infected rodent urine, droppings or saliva, and the
chances increase when people are near spaces where rodents are
actively living. Last year, ten people fell ill and three
died from exposure to deer mice infected with
Hantavirus after staying in tent cabins at Yosemite National
Park. Early symptoms of the disease include fatigue, fever and
muscle aches, according to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People may also
experience headaches, dizziness, chills and abdominal
- Bubonic Plague– Also known as the “Black Death”, the Plague is
a highly contagious and often deadly disease notorious for killing
one-third of the European population during the Middle Ages. Plague
is usually spread by the bite of an infected rodent flea and can
cause fever, headache and painfully swollen lymph nodes. A Colorado
girl was infected with the
Plague in 2012 after falling ill during a camping trip.
- Salmonellosis– Salmonellosis is a type of food poisoning spread
by rodent feces, especially through the consumption of contaminated
food. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain. Each
year, approximately 40,000 cases of Salmonella are reported in the
U.S., according to
- Rat-Bite Fever– Rat-bite fever (RBF) is a potentially fatal
infectious disease spread by infected rodents or the consumption of
food contaminated by rodents. The CDC says that symptoms usually
occur 3-10 days after exposure to an infected source and include
fever, vomiting, headaches, rash and muscle pain.
In addition to
health risks, rodents can pose a significant property risk as
they have a tendency to destroy insulation in attics and can chew
through wallboards, cardboard, wood and even electrical wiring. In
fact, rodents cause up to 25 percent of house fires in the U.S.
With rapid reproduction rates, rodents can quickly go from being
unnoticeable to causing a full-blown infestation. Homeowners should
look at prevention as the first line of defense again these pests
and take steps to keep them out of the home.
Check out this
article for detailed rodent prevention tips. Also, it’s
important for homeowners to be aware of other signs of rodents,
such as scampering sounds in ceilings, droppings found in
undisturbed places or partially eaten food in the kitchen. If an
infestation is suspected, a pest professional can offer the
expertise and knowledge to treat the problem.