Urban Myth: Rats Don’t Carry Disease Like They Used To

You might have read about rats spreading the bubonic plague in the middle ages. However, they don’t spread diseases now, do they? Actually, they do. Thanks to better sanitation and medical care, we don’t get diseases like the plague escalating now. But rats still carry some pretty nasty germs that can make us and our pets ill. 

What Diseases Do Rats Carry?

Rats carry bacteria and viruses which can serious illness in humans and animals. They also carry parasites like fleas, ticks, lice, and mites. Lovely, right?

With estimated figures on rat numbers in the UK ranging from 10.5 million to 120 million, that’s a lot of disease-spreading potential. As long as they are thriving in our sewers, homes, and businesses, they are a very real risk to public health. 

Here are just some of the diseases that rats are known to carry:

Weil’s disease: This is an infection of the blood that causes headaches and muscle pain. In severe cases, it can cause meningitis and kidney failure;

Salmonella: We’ve all heard of this. It’s a bacteria that causes some very unpleasant symptoms like an upset stomach, diarrhoea, fever, and pain;

Tuberculosis: This is a bacterial infection that affects the lungs;

Foot and mouth disease: A viral infection that affects humans, cattle, and sheep;

E.coli: A nasty bacteria that causes gastrointestinal illness and symptoms like fatigue, nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhoea;

Cryptosporidiosis: An intestinal illness caused by a parasite;

Hantavirus: A severe illness that presents like the flu;

Listeria: A bacterial infection that causes fever, aches, pains, vomiting, and diarrhoea;

How Do Rats Spread Diseases?

Rats urinate to mark their territory, and rat urine is a common way that they transmit diseases. You can also catch nasty bugs from:

  • Contact with their droppings;
  • Drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food;
  • Inhaling airborne particles from their faeces;
  • Being bitten or scratched by a rat;
  • Parasites that latch onto pets and get into our homes.

How To Avoid Catching a Disease From a Rat 

The first thing you should focus on is preventing rats from getting into your home in the first place. 

  • Seal any gaps under doors, around pipes and cables, and in foundations and walls. 
  • Keep your garden free from clutter and don’t allow foliage to overgrow. This gives rats a handy place to nest, really close to your property. Check that rats aren’t hiding out in your compost heap, either. 
  • Keep drain covers in good repair and seal any pipes that aren’t in use.
  • Make sure your bin lids are closed and you don’t leave rubbish bags lying next to your bins. Double bag food waste and keep your bins generally clean. 

Got a Rat Problem?

Rats breed fast. They are experts at staying out of sight and they are very adaptable. There are also increasing signs that some rats are becoming ‘immune’ to some rodenticides. This is why if there are signs of infestation in your home, you should call in professional pest control. 

The risk of you or your pets getting ill far outweighs the benefits of trying to tackle the problem yourself, or doing nothing. 

Professional pest control technicians are trained in rat control and they’ll use products and equipment that aren’t available to the public. This means a faster and safer solution to your rat problem. They won’t just get rid of the infestation either, they’ll give you invaluable advice on how to prevent the problem from happening again. 

Want to protect your family and pets from some nasty diseases?

Call Contego for help with your rat problem. 

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