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Rodent-Borne Diseases: What are the harmful effects of rats on humans?


Rats, and rodents in general, aren’t just a pain to get rid of. Many of you might be tempted just to let them be, hoping that they’ll leave your attic once the weather gets hot. But one thing that most people tend to forget is that rats can carry many diseases.

Whatever is left from a rodent infestation will always be riddled with their excrement and urine. With so many rat diseases, you can never be sure if the rats in your attic were infected or not, thus making the rat infestation a serious health risk.

That’s what we’ll be covering in this article. With our years of experience in clearing up rodent infestations all over SoCal, we’ve narrowed down the main diseases spread by rats to humans. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at them.

Diseases Spread by Rats to Humans

Before we go on with the several rat diseases, we want to note that all of these can be cured with antibiotics if you attend to them quickly. Plus, the most common symptoms are similar to the flu, along with nausea, vomiting, and aches.

If you’re suffering from any symptoms like these and you’ve recently dealt with a rodent infestation, you must get a check-up to receive the proper treatment.


The Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), or simply Hantavirus, is a rare but deadly disease. With a mortality rate of 40% and no recorded treatment, the Hantavirus is perhaps the most dangerous disease you can get from rodents.

Thankfully, there are only a few rat species that can be infected by the Hantavirus in the US, and even then, not every rat belonging to those species will carry the virus.


Leptospirosis isn’t that common, and the risk rate is significantly lower than the Hantavirus. The bacteria that causes the disease, Leptospira, can be found in rodents’ urine, as it lives inside their kidneys.

Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics, and some of its symptoms include headaches, vomiting, skin rash, and muscle pain. However, if it’s left untreated, there’s a slight chance that it’ll develop into Weil’s Disease.

Weil’s Disease

Weil’s Disease is deadly, and it needs immediate treatment at a hospital. Coughing up blood, chest pain, and swollen ankles and hands are just some of its symptoms.

Rat Bite Fever

Rat Bite Fever is a more common disease than the ones we mentioned above. As the name suggests, it’s transmitted through rodent bites or scratches and is caused by two bacteria: the Streptobacillus moniliformis and Spirillum minus.

While Streptobacillus causes flu-like symptoms that appear within 10 days of infection, Spirillum’s infection symptoms appear after 1-3 weeks and are more severe. Both infections can and should be treated with antibiotics, as they can cause further infections in vital organs.


Humans can be infected by the Tularemia bacteria in several ways, from consuming contaminated food or water, inhaling contaminated dust, or even coming into contact with infected pets. Human-to-human infection of the disease is yet to be reported, though.

Tularemia’s symptoms depend on how the person was infected (skin, eyes, bites, etc.). In general, swollen lymph glands and ulcers are the most common symptoms. It must be treated with antibiotics as quickly as possible.


Salmonellosis is arguably the most common disease carried by rats all over SoCal. Caused by the Salmonella bacteria, the disease is one of the few that doesn’t require any treatment. The symptoms attached to it are vomiting, fever, nausea, and abdominal and muscle pain.

The only “treatment” needed is to replenish the liquids lost. But, the infection itself goes away within a week. It’s generally caused when coming into contact with any type of rodent waste.

The Plague

The one disease that’s been attached to rats for hundreds of years is the Plague. While it’s not directly caused by rats (it’s actually caused by fleas), the Plague can be deadly if left untreated. Thankfully, it can be treated with antibiotics, with some of its symptoms including flu-like ones and swollen lymph glands.

Let Us Eliminate Your Rodent Infestation the Green Way

These were just a few of the diseases rats can spread to humans. Don’t worry, though. As long as you take a trip to the doctor quickly, you’ll be fine. But be careful when you clear up the leftovers of a rat infestation. Or let the professionals handle it!

At Green Rodent Restoration, we use our professional equipment to get rid of rats and clean up your attic, as well as the remains of an infestation. So, contact us now for a free estimate so that you don’t have to face the rat infestation health risks.

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