Rodent Pest Control: Do Rats Have Rabies?

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Being infested with small rodents like rats and mice in your home is a real mood killer. The mere sight of these pests can make people panic and rats and mice can raid your cabinets and destroy stuff. Moreover, these rodents also carry parasites, bacteria and viruses that may cause harmful diseases to humans.

Rodent pest control Beaverton is essential to keep your family and pets safe against rodent-borne diseases.

As a pest control expert in Beaverton, one of the most common questions I get from customers is: Do rats have rabies?” Others also ask if there are other potential risks of a rat bite or if there are dangerous health issues that can arise from having a rodent infestation in your home. Read on to find out.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It can be transmitted to humans through the saliva of an infected animal. Humans can get the virus when they are bitten or when their skin has been scratched and licked by the infected animal.

Rabies can be deadly if not treated right away. No matter how small the bite is, it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Even if infection is rare, you should get immediate medical care after being bitten as it can be fatal if you don’t get the proper treatment right away.

The good news is, you can get a vaccine before symptoms develop. This will prevent you from getting infected by the virus after you have been bitten. 

rat bite

Do rats have rabies?

The short answer is—very, very rarely. According to the US Public Health Service, rabies in rats are not a huge concern as these rodents are seldom found to have the rabies virus. Moreover, cases of rabies being transmitted from rats to humans are extremely rare. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that the incidents of rabies are relatively low in developed countries. It is, however, more prevalent in developing countries. 

So to answer the question, rats and mice are not known to be rabies carriers. In fact, most hospitals in the US rarely gives anti-rabies vaccine if you have been bitten by a rat. They rather give tetanus immunization and anti-bacterial medications on occasion. Hence, getting tetanus shots after being bitten by a rat or mouse is actually more important than anti-rabies shots. 

Rabies is usually only present in wild animals and the most common carrier of rabies in the US are bats, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and skunks. It is rare for small animals like rats, hamsters, squirrels, and gerbils to have the virus.

Rats are therefore not considered to be a serious risk in the transmission of rabies to humans. It is not necessary to take rabies shots after being bitten by a rat, although victims should seek medical attention to forestall the transmission of other infections.

how to treat rat bites

Nevertheless, that does not mean you can relax when you see rats or mice in your home. Rats still carry other diseases and if you get bitten, you might end up getting infected with a rat-bite fever, a rare bacterial disease associated with rat bites.

But what should really be more concerning is the possibility of contracting hantaviruses from rats and mice. Hantaviruses can cause Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), a severe, infectious disease characterized by flu-like symptoms that can progress rapidly to life-threatening breathing problems. This respiratory disease can sometimes be fatal.

Rats and mice don’t necessarily have to inflict a bite for humans to get infected. Hantaviruses are easily transmitted by contact with an infected rodent’s urine, feces, or saliva. Worse, you can even get hantaviruses through airborne transmission, much like the dreaded Covid-19 virus which the whole world is currently battling!

What are hantaviruses and how can I get them from rodents?

There are different types of hantaviruses, each with its preferred rodent carrier. In the US, most cases of the Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) are transmitted by the common deer mouse. Other hantavirus carriers include the cotton rat, rice rat, and white-tailed mouse.

The main transmission route of hantaviruses is via inhalation of aerosolized particles that are shed in rodent urine, droppings, and saliva. For instance, the simple practice of using a broom to sweep up mouse droppings in your basement or attic can stir tiny fecal particles containing hantaviruses into the air, which you can easily inhale.

sweep rodent droppings

Once you inhale virus particles, they travel to your lungs and start invading the capillaries, causing them to leak. Eventually, your lungs are flooded with fluids which can trigger respiratory problems. Breathing becomes more difficult, blood pressure drops and the organs (particularly the heart) may begin to fail. Depending on the hantavirus strain, HPS mortality rate can reach as high as 30%.

The chances of getting infected with hantavirus is greater for people who work, live or play in spaces where rodents live. Factors and activities that increase the risk include:

  • Having a home or workspace infested with rodents
  • Housecleaning, particularly in attics or other low-traffic areas
  • Opening and cleaning long unused buildings or sheds
  • Having a job that involves exposure to rodents (construction, utility work and pest control)
  • Camping, hiking or hunting

Preventing diseases associated with rodents

Keeping rodents out of your home and workplace is the best way to reduce your risk of hantavirus infection and other rodent-related diseases. Try these tips at home to reduce rodent population or eliminate rats and mice from your property.

  • Eliminate food sources. Wash dishes promptly, clean counters and floors, and store your food — including pet food — in rodent-proof containers. Use tightfitting lids on garbage cans.
  • Reduce nesting material. Clear brush, grass and junk away from the building’s foundation.
  • Set traps. Spring-loaded traps should be set along baseboards. Exercise caution while using poison-bait traps, as the poison also can harm people and pets.
  • Block access. Mice can squeeze through holes as small as 1/4 inch (6 millimeters) wide. Seal holes with wire screening, metal flashing or cement.
  • Observe safe cleanup procedures. Wet down areas where there are rodent droppings and urine with household disinfectants, bleach, or alcohol. This kills the virus and helps prevent infected dust from being stirred up into the air. Once everything is wet, use a damp towel to pick up the contaminated material. Then mop or sponge the area with disinfectant.
  • Take special precautions. Wear protective clothing including a mask or respirator when cleaning spaces with heavy rodent infestations.

Professional Rodent Pest Control

rodent pest control beaverton

As always, prevention is better than cure. The safety of everyone in your home should be top priority, pets included. So before rats and other pests invade your home, it is always best to have a comprehensive pest control plan in place to make sure your home stays pest-free all year round.

Ant & Garden Organic Pest Control in Beaverton specializes in safe, organic and eco-friendly pest control solutions for common house pests like rodents, ants and spiders, among many others. So whether you have spotted a few rats and mice in your property or think you already have a rodent infestation, call the best Beaverton pest exterminator so you can prevent rodents from infesting your home and sabotaging your health.

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