one brown rat facing with a clean white background

How Dangerous are Rats?

When the issue of “how dangerous are rats” is raised, many people think back hundreds of years to the era of The Plague in Europe. During that period in history, fleas associated with rats spread the bubonic plague. A large percentage of the population of Europe died as a result of The Plague.

A segment of society today is not appropriately aware of the fact that rats continue to pose a health risk. The reality is that people from all walks of life need to understand the fact that rats are still capable of spreading viruses and bacteria that can cause serious and even fatal disease.

The Hazardous Nature of Rat Droppings

The truth is that most people do not appreciate the true danger of rat droppings. Rat droppings can contain different types of viruses and bacteria. One of the most hazardous of viruses that can be found in rat droppings is the hantavirus.

Not only do many individuals not appreciate the potential risk of rat droppings, they also do not understand how disease can be spread via rodent feces and urine. Perhaps the most common misconception in this regard is that only fresh rat feces and urine are capable of spreading bacteria and viruses. In fact, dried rat droppings can be highly hazardous to humans.

A prime example of the danger of dried rat droppings is found in regard to the hantavirus. The hantavirus survives – stays alive – when rat droppings dry out.

Dried rat droppings easily crumble. When dried rat droppings crumble, dust containing any virus in the feces is rendered airborne. A person in the vicinity of the airborne rat dropping dust breathes it in, together with any pathogens contained in the inhaled dust. In short, an individual can become infected with a potentially deadly virus (like the hantavirus) in this manner.

The Need for Professional Rat Droppings Cleanup

Due to the risk presented by rat droppings, particularly dried rat droppings, professional remediation is the recommended course when it comes to eliminating this type of waste. A professional rat droppings cleanup specialist has the experience, equipment, tools, and associated resources necessary to effectively remediate this type of biohazard.

The failure to engage a rat droppings cleanup specialist exposes anyone involved in cleaning up rat feces and urine to a real risk of contracting a serious, and potentially deadly, diseased. In addition, in the absence of a professional biohazard remediator, it is highly likely that dangerous pathogens associated with rat droppings will not be fully and appropriately eliminated. In other words, other people run the risk of being exposed to potentially deadly pathogens.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome

One of the most dangerous diseases that can result from contact with rat droppings is hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. The world-renowned Mayo Clinic describes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome as an infectious disease that initially is characterized by flu-like symptoms. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome can rapidly progress and become life-threatening in a very short period of time.

The early symptoms of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain

As the disease advances, the symptoms become more severe and include:

  • A cough that produces secretions
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fluid accumulating in the lungs
  • Low blood pressure
  • Reduced heart efficiency

These symptoms progress and ultimately organs begin to fail. The heart is particularly an organ that will begin to fail as the disease progresses. In the United States, the fatality rate for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is over 30 percent.

There exists no specific treatment protocol for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. The best way to address this type of injection is to seek early medical intervention as a means of lessening the symptoms associated with the disease. The failure to take a proactive stance raises the potential of a very severe and even deadly infection.

What to do if Exposed to Rat Droppings

If you are exposed to rat droppings, you need to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician immediately. If you do not have a primary care physician, you need to make arrangements to seek medical attention from a doctor. If you lack insurance, or are otherwise unable to access medical care, contact the health department in your county.

A physician will be able to provide proper testing of you to ascertain if you’ve been infected with some type of bacteria or virus because of your exposure to rat droppings. You must be proactive in seeking medical attention if you’ve been exposed to rat droppings. Indeed, you need to follow the same steps if you have been exposed to wild mouse droppings as well.

Photo Courtesy of AlexK100.