If you’ve ever encountered a rat in your home (or most anywhere, for that matter!), you know that they can be more than just a nuisance. Rats are known to spread disease, cause property damage, and contaminate food. But what kind of health hazards do rats create? Let’s take a closer look at the hidden dangers that come with having rats in your home. Then, see Orkin’s list of the nation’s most rat infested cities – fingers crossed yours isn’t on it!

The Dangers of Rat Droppings 

Rats produce a lot of droppings—up to 40 per day! These droppings carry bacteria and viruses that can cause serious illnesses in humans if not properly removed and sanitized. Some common diseases linked to rat droppings include salmonellosis, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, leptospirosis, and rat-bite fever. Salmonellosis symptoms range from mild diarrhea to severe abdominal cramps; hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a potentially fatal respiratory illness; leptospirosis is an infection that affects the liver and kidneys; and rat-bite fever is an infection caused by the bite or scratch of an infected rat. 

The Risk of Contamination 

Rats are scavengers who will eat anything they can get their paws on—including food meant for human consumption. Not only does this mean that any food stored near rats could be contaminated, but it also means there’s a higher risk of food poisoning due to salmonella or other bacteria found in rat feces. To help reduce the risk of contamination, keep all food items in airtight containers and regularly clean your pantry shelves with hot water and soap. 

Infection Through Bites & Scratches  

When scared or cornered, rats may bite or scratch as an act of self-defense. Unfortunately, these bites and scratches can transmit diseases like rat-bite fever which can cause joint pain, skin lesions and swollen lymph nodes in humans. If you suspect you have been bitten or scratched by a rat, see your doctor immediately for treatment. Also make sure to thoroughly wash the area with soap and water for at least 15 seconds before applying antiseptic cream or ointment as directed by your doctor.    

View the list of the top 25 rattiest cities in 2022 on our sister site, The Leader News, here.

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