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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

I'm Getting Sick Here (AKA: Losing the rat race)

We talk about how important it is to control rodents. They eat our foods and contaminate what’s left. They damage our structures and chew on wires. All of which is pretty important to most people. What many forget, or just don’t think about much, is the diseases they carry.


It’s not a joke and it’s definitely something to be concerned with. Some rodent borne diseases have a high mortality rate and long term effects for survivors. In this case, Hantavirus is picked up by contacting (typically inhaling) contaminated urine primarily from deer mice. The early symptoms are flu-like and it has a 38% mortality rate. That can be even higher in developing countries or when treatment is delayed.


The CDC lists 14 diseases directly transmitted by rodents, including Hantavirus. Another common one is Salmonellosis. Salmonella bacteria are transferred to people when they come in contact (usually orally) with contaminated food, water, or rodents themselves. It is the most common form of bacterial food poisoning in the US. It affects 1.35 million people per year and results in about 420 deaths every year.

There are also another 17 diseases indirectly transmitted by rodents. That means there is a tick, mite, flea, or mosquito that bites the rodent and then carries that disease to a person. The most famous of these is the plague. You say: the plague doesn’t exist anymore Chelle! And I say: you are wrong. There are still a few cases every year in the US and more in other countries. Another big one is borreliosis which is the causative agent of Lyme disease which affects over 400,0000 people each year.


All that is great, but what are we going to do about it? You will hear many people say: clean up their food source, if you would just clean up all of their food, the problem will be eliminated. Theoretically, that’s true. With no food, they will be starved and die. Simple, right?


Except most of us know that is practically impossible. Unless you have a structure (house, office, warehouse, production plant, whatever) completely empty of people, how can you possibly remove ALL the food? I’m not willing to completely clean my own house out of all the food, there is no way a restaurant or distribution center can ever do that.

Hungry? They are too.

That being said, it’s still important to do as much as possible when it comes to sanitation. I’m not going to belabor that point here, I’ve written about it quite a lot in other posts.


The next thing to do is exclusion. Just like sanitation, that’s easier said than done. Rodents can squeeze themselves into some pretty tiny spaces to get inside and if they can’t, they will gnaw around the opening until it’s just big enough.

That being said, it’s still important to do as much as possible when it comes to exclusion. I won’t belabor that point here, I’ve written about it quite a lot in other posts.

Then there are products to use to eliminate rodents. We’ve got bait and traps for that. These methods will also work perfectly…as long as everything else is perfect and they don’t come in from neighboring properties and they are placed just right and the lighting is flawless, and the moon is in the right phase in line with Jupiter.


That being said, it’s still important to do as much as possible when it comes to trapping and baiting. (Sound familiar yet?)


The point is, conditions are never going to be perfect and pest control pro’s need to adjust to that. It’s not easy. If it was, we would have gotten rid of our rodent problems decades ago and wouldn’t even be talking about these diseases. Being this complicated and tricky, it stresses the need for pro’s to evaluate the situation and put in the right combination of control methods.


So how’s your rodent plan doing? Hopefully, it is adequately protecting all the people, foods, and structures it needs to. Want to make it better? Contact us today!



Lagniappe - yep, leaving this right here!



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