Patient with a doctor in examination room - Keep rodents away from your property with Russell's Pest Control in Knoxville TN

Rats and mice are not just unwelcome guests in your home or business, they are significant health hazards. These rodents carry a variety of diseases and bacteria that can pose serious health risks to humans. Even if you never directly touch these pests, you can still become ill. 

Consuming food that they have contaminated, or merely spending time in areas where they have established infestations, can result in sickness. In Knoxville, it is widely recognized that rats and mice are vectors for numerous harmful diseases, making their control a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy living environment.

Which Rodents Carry Diseases?

Almost every species of rodent is capable of transmitting diseases to both humans and pets. However, rats and mice are the primary culprits when it comes to invading our living spaces and therefore represent significant concerns for disease transmission. These pests can spread illnesses through bites, scratches, or even through contact with their urine and feces. The risk of disease can also come from the ticks, fleas, or mites that reside on these rodents or within their nests. 

Here are rodents to watch out for:

  • Deer Mouse: This mouse predominantly carries hantavirus and salmonella. Typically found in rural or semi-rural areas, it may invade homes in search of food, posing significant health risks.
  • House Mouse: Known for spreading rat-bite fever, this mouse is found globally and thrives in both urban and rural settings, making it a common problem in various environments.
  • Meadow Vole: These voles can transmit tularemia (also known as rabbit fever) and often host various ectoparasites like mites and ticks, which can also carry diseases.
  • Roof Rat: These rats are known to transmit leptospirosis, salmonella (through food contamination), rat-bite fever, murine typhus, and toxoplasmosis, making them particularly dangerous in both homes and businesses.

Rodent-Borne Illnesses to Be Aware Of

Not every illness carried by rodents is deadly, but many can lead to severe health complications if not promptly addressed. In Knoxville, some of the more severe diseases spread by these rodents include:

  • Rat-Bite Fever: This disease is often spread through bites or scratches from infected rodents, or even from handling deceased rodents or contaminated traps without adequate safety measures.
  • Leptospirosis: Caused by bacteria found in water or soil contaminated with the urine of infected animals, leptospirosis is often linked to rodents.
  • Salmonellosis: Commonly linked to ingesting contaminated food, this illness can also be spread through rodent feces.
  • Tularemia: Also known as rabbit fever, tularemia can be contracted by handling infected rodents, such as the meadow vole.
  • Murine Typhus: This disease is transmitted by fleas that have bitten infected rodents, particularly rats.
  • Toxoplasmosis: While primarily associated with cat feces, rodents can also carry the parasite that causes this infection, which can lead to flu-like symptoms in healthy adults.
  • Hantavirus: Typically transmitted by deer mice, hantavirus is a serious respiratory illness that starts with symptoms like fever and chills and requires immediate medical attention.

What is Hantavirus?

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a dangerous disease first identified in the U.S. in 1993 when a series of respiratory-related deaths occurred in the western part of the country. After intensive research, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that the deaths could be attributed to the Hantavirus. When people are exposed to the Hantavirus, they can (but may not) develop HPS.

How Could I Be Exposed to HPS?

Hantavirus exposure is overwhelmingly attributed to interaction with rodents, particularly the deer mouse. Please note that not every species of rodent carries the Hantavirus, and most of the rodents in Knoxville are not known to be carriers of this virus. Cotton rats, which are natives to the South East, can also carry the Hantavirus, but they are found to be infected less frequently than the deer mouse.

What Can Put Me at Risk for Getting HPS From a Deer Mouse?

The Hantavirus is spread through contact with urine, feces, and saliva from an infected deer mouse or cotton rat. You should be on your guard if you spend time in infrequently used buildings that may have rodent activity, if you do yard work near wood piles or other habitats that could harbor mice, or if you hike or camp in areas that are attractive to mice (like campgrounds or trail shelters). 

If you are going to be working in an area with known mouse activity (like a shed or a crawl space), wear a surgical mask while you work. This virus is airborne, so you are most likely to be exposed to it while breathing in mouse-infested areas. It is not transferable from human to human, meaning that if you are exposed to mouse waste, you cannot pass on the virus to friends or family members.

What Are the Symptoms of HPS?

Generally speaking, the virus begins to express itself less than a month after exposure to infected deer mice. All victims of HPS complain of: 

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Fever
  • Deep muscle cramps (in the thighs, abs, and back)
  • Abdominal issues (nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea)
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

These are the early symptoms leading to respiratory problems. Eventually, the lungs will start to fill up with fluid, and the patient will experience tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, and a suffocating feeling.

If you start to get flu-like symptoms after being exposed to rodent habitats, go to the doctor immediately and describe your rodent interaction. 

Where Can I Get Help with Rodent Control?

Discovering rodents on your property requires immediate action to protect your health and your home. Contacting the rodent extermination professionals at Russell’s Pest Control for rodent control is a safe and effective way to eliminate these pests. Our team specializes in swiftly removing rats and mice, ensuring they don’t return, thus safeguarding your family’s health and protecting your property. 

Don’t wait until the problem worsens! Give us a call for year-round rodent control, and we’ll help you in any way we can. 

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