6 Diseases Rats Carry

Rats are known for being unsanitary creatures, so the idea of them roaming through your house can make your skin crawl. However, even if you keep your home very clean, there is always the possibility of experiencing a rat infestation. These creatures not only chew through your furniture; they also carry many diseases that can make you and your family members severely ill. Here are six diseases rats carry:

Rate Bite Fever

Caused by the Streptobacillus moniliformis virus, rat bite fever can be fatal if not taken care of properly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Whether it is transmitted through a bite of an infected rat or from consuming food or beverages that are infested with the bacteria, symptoms of the disease can appear 3 to 10 days after exposure. The most common signs of rat bite fever are fever, rash, muscle pain and vomiting. Rat bite fever is often treated with penicillin.


Although leptospirosis is more common in the tropical and subtropical parts of the world, it can occur anywhere. According to Medical News Today, this disease lives in the kidneys of rats and expels when they urinate. Some of the most common symptoms of this bacterial disease include chills, diarrhea, nausea, skin pain, fever and muscle pain. If the disease is left untreated, more serious side effects can develop including nosebleeds, disorientation, irregular heart beat and jaundice. If you experience severe leptospiorosis, you will have to be hospitalized and given antibiotics within your veins. If your kidneys are affected by the disease, dialysis may be required.

Murine Typhus

Murine Typhus is transmitted through rat fleas and causes fever, chills and headache, according to Merck Manuals. A rash is also common, but it is usually minor and disappears within a couple of weeks. This disease is rarely fatal, but is more dangerous for the elderly. The most common medication to treat murine typhus is doxycycline.


Salmonellosis, also known as salmonella, is another bacterial disease you have to watch out for with rats. If you come in contact with a rat's urine or feces, you are in danger of contracting the disease. Salmonellosis leads to unpleasant issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps and fever. While the majority of healthy adults recover from this illness just fine, it is possible for the infection to spread through the entire body. If that happens, bactericidal drugs are necessary.


The plague, which is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, can be contracted if you get bitten by a rat, according to eMedicine Health. It is also possible to catch this disease if you inhale plague-infected organisms in the air. If you contract this disease, you will likely experience fever, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, chills and weakness. After you are given antibiotics, you will have to stay away from others for two to three days. In severe cases, plague can lead to meningitis, septic shock and even death.


Hantavirus is transmitted through rat feces, urine and saliva and can be contracted through inhalation, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. Common symptoms of this virus include dizziness, diarrhea, stomach pain and chills. If the disease progresses, you can experience shortness of breath and coughing from fluid buildup in your lungs. Although there are no known vaccinations or treatments for hantavirus, oxygen therapy may help.

As you can see, there are a lot dangerous diseases that can be transmitted through rats. If you have a rat infestation in your home, it is important to contact a reputable pest control company as soon as possible. Click here for more information on pest control services in your area.