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Dealing With Rats In Homes, Rat Related Diseases

Dealing With Rats In Homes; Rat Diseases
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The presence of rats in our homes and around us is a major problem. Although there has been no massive outbreak of widespread disease associated with their presence in our environment, that threat is a clear reminder of how poorly we still fare on the human index for good health and healthy living.

Rats and mice are found even in hospitals, hotels and some airliners. They are very creative creatures with great destructive power and can feed and live on almost anything. They are also very useful in the laboratories as research tools, especially mice. It can be safely said that much of what is known today about the human body and how it interacts with drugs would not have been known were it not for the presence of mice.

But that is where the good ends. These creatures have long been associated with major disease outbreaks such as the Bubonic plague in the Middle Ages and the Black Death.

Rats range in sizes; from the tiny mouse found in the home to the grass-cutter that many find to be a delicacy, but it is actually a giant rat. And while rats are generally described as being large in comparison to mice, they belong to the same family of rodents. They also range from the single mouse or rat, which causes a lot of damage in the home, to the armies of bamboo rats which descend on Indian villages and other rural areas every 50 years or so, consuming and destroying everything in their path. Once they are introduced into an environment in which they did not previously exist, rats have a reputation for causing such damage that they are held accountable for much environmental degradation. It has been said that rats in New York City are probably as many as its human inhabitants. This alone shows that it is not a sole preoccupation of the Third World.

There are many diseases directly linked to rats. The Centres for Disease Control in Atlanta, USA, has linked a dozen or so diseases directly to rats. We shall be discussing these diseases in brief. Most of the time, these diseases are caused by the scratching and biting of these animals on the human skin. At other times, they are caused by the contamination of the food or water we drink with the urine and faeces of these animals. If they are thus allowed to live with us in our homes and in close proximity, it means that these diseases can affect us directly.

1) Rat bite fever: This is caused by the bite or scratch from an infected rat. It can also be caused by contact with a dead rodent. Bacteria present in the rat trigger this disease. Eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the urine or faeces of a rat provides another mode of infection. This infection can occur anywhere in the world, but is more likely where there is no safe drinking water. The infection can therefore be treated when it occurs.

2) Salmonellosis: This is caused by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with rat faeces. It is also promoted by bacteria. This problem is more likely to occur where people do not keep to the basic laws of hygiene, cover unfinished food properly or where they fail to ensure that their drinking water is safe enough for drinking. As said before on this page, this is guaranteed by boiling or filtering potable water or both. When an infection is present, it can be treated.

3) Plague: This is caused by the bite from an infected flea which would have contracted the bacteria from a rat. It then transmits the bacteria to a human by biting. It is a deadly disease but it can be treated. It is so serious that until 2007, it was still regarded as a notifiable disease by the World Health Organisation. The other two diseases similarly classified are yellow fever and cholera. Plague causes septicaemia and can similarly affect the lungs if it is present in inhaled air. The most recent incident of this happened in India in 1994.

4) Leptospirosis: When you drink water or eat food contaminated by infected rats, you are at risk of contracting the disease. When there is contact of the mucous membranes, such as the one inside the nose, the skin with water or contaminated soil with the urine of infected rats, you are at risk of getting the disease. This illness is also triggered by bacteria, which means the bacteria are present in the infected rodents.

5) Lassa fever: This is a deadly disease caused by a virus present in an infected rat. It was first described in the village of Lassa in today’s Borno State. Since the first description of this disease in 1969, there have been several outbreaks in various parts of Nigeria, notably in Benue and Edo states. Being a viral infection, there is no specific treatment and the death rate is close to 90 per cent. It is caused by breathing in dust that is contaminated with the urine or stool of rats and mice, by direct contact with these rodents or with their droppings, by being bitten by these rats and by person-to-person contact with those who have the disease. This disease is primarily seen in West Africa.

6) Tularaemia: This is a bacterial infection which occurs when a person eats food or drinks water contaminated by rat urine or stool. It can also be transmitted through bites from fleas, mosquitoes, flies and ticks from the reservoir in rodents. It can also be contracted through the consumption of undercooked infected meat. It causes significant swelling of the lymph glands found in the armpits, groin and around the neck and may also cause throat infections. It is treatable with antibiotics and death from it is rare in Europe or North America.

7) Others: These are the other diseases caused by rats but are of less importance to us living in this part of the world because they have not been detected here. This includes Hantavirus found mainly in South America. It causes a respiratory disease. Another one is South American Arenaviruses, which is found in South America as the name implies. Then there is the Haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome found mainly in Western Europe, Asia, the Korean Peninsula and the Balkans. The latter two infections are associated with abnormal bleeding from the skin and the internal organs that is so pervasive and severe that the kidneys eventually fail.Omsk Haemorrhagic fever is similar to the ones just described. It is caused by a virus and found mainly in Western Siberia. The mode of infection is similar to the Omsk fever. Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis is another infection caused by rats through a virus. It causes a mild illness resembling meningitis in some ways but death from this seldom occurs.

In other to prevent problems occurring as a result of contact with these clever, resourceful but unpleasant animals, do all in your power to keep them out of your homes.

You may want to check out Home Sentinel 5 in 1 Indoor Home Pest Control Repeller Against Mouse, Rat and Insects at Amazon.

Source: Punch

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