Diseases caused by rat and bird droppings.
We will clean up!
Your house could be making you sick!
Old rat, bat and bird droppings
form bacteria-carrying dust - this gets into your house and can make you
Rats around the house and in offices can be a serious nuisance. They not only cause damage by gnawing on cables, wires and plastic pipes - but they are a serious health risk as well. Rats live on food and rubbish left in open areas, and use buildings - especially roofs - as shelter. Rats can cause fires and electrical shorts by gnawing on cables, water leaks by biting through pipes, and human diseases through their urine and faeces.
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Often seen in places where there has recently been demolition or construction work, where rubbish is lying around, in drains, as well as in rural areas, rats are a growing nuisance. With the abundance of food available, rats are less likely to take poisoned bait.
The average lifespan of a rat is 18 months and one pair can produce a colony of 2,000 rats in a year. In order to reproduce at such an alarming rate, up to 30% of the female rat population is pregnant at any time. Females become sexually mature at just 8-12 weeks, gestation is between 21 and 23 days, and females are able to conceive whilst suckling a previous litter, often mating within 18 hours of giving birth. They can breed throughout the year if the weather is mild and there is plenty of food. Up to 13 litters are possible each year, each one consisting of 7-9 young.
They eat the equivalent of 10% of their body weight daily, consuming rubbish, leftover dog food, bird food and even dog excrement.
Rats are largely nocturnal but will feed in the day time if there is enough food laying around in streets or alley ways. So if you see a rat during the day time its probably because its been feeding on dumped household waste.
Signs that Rats are present:
|||Droppings 10mm spindle shaped, usually round corners|
|||Unusual smells a longstanding problem can create a stale smell|
|||Rat runs a continuous depression in grass or other low vegetation, a smooth pathway may be visible on bare earth|
|||Gnawing often to the bottom of wooden doors and sheds|
|||Black marks and stains on walls, cables and roof/ceiling beams - see photos below|
|||Scattering compost or household waste being dragged out of bins or heaps|
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|Note the black marks on the electrical cable - this is caused by the grease on the fur of the rats||Note the dicolouration on the alarm sensor||Note the "U-shaped" stain on the beam - this is caused by the grease on the fur of the rats|
What you can do to prevent a rat infestation
|||Cover your rainwater and waste water U-traps (gullies) with mesh and seal up sewer slabs so that the Norway Rat will find no openings above ground.|
|||Store boxes containing paper, clothing or wool in the roof or basement provide excellent nesting for the Black Rat and Domestic Mouse, so this should be done on shelving.|
|||Always keep the kitchen clean; wiping down all food surfaces and appliances is a sine-qua-non. Make sure your garbage bins have well-fitting and secure lids. Do not leave food out overnight in the kitchen.|
|||Dont leave pet food out overnight and sweep up spilled birdseed from around your birdcages. Regularly clean out aviaries and animal pens. Seal up your pet foods in plastic containers rats and mice will rip through packaging in no time. If you need to stockpile animal feed store it on shelving and rotate its use regularly to ensure that old stock is used first: rodents are also extremely wary of change and will wait before trying out the food source.|
|||Seal up all cereals or grains in plastic or glass containers and refrigerate tubers such as potatoes and carrots.|
||| If you have fruit trees in your garden, collect the windfalls regularly. Do not put leftover meat, poultry, fish, animal and fish bones or dairy products in the compost bin and make sure you regularly turn over your compost and lime it properly.|
|||Plant bushes away from the walls of your house. Creepers may look beautiful, but they provide rodents with very easy access to your house. If you have trees close to your house, prune them back regularly and make sure your air vents are sealed up.|
|||Repair all plumbing leaks to prevent easy access to good water. When not in use, cover up fresh water pools, water-features and outdoor jacuzzis.|
|||Last but not least do put down the lid of the toilet bowl after use, as rats are occasionally known to emerge from the sewer pipe through the toilet water bowl, especially at ground level.|
Some diseases caused by rats, rat droppings, rat urine and rat saliva:
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS): Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a deadly disease transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings, or saliva. Humans can contract the disease when they breathe in aerosolized virus. HPS was first recognized in 1993, and although rare, HPS is potentially deadly. Rodent control in and around the home remains the primary strategy for preventing hantavirus infection.
Murine Typhus: Murine typhus (caused by infection with Rickettsia typhi) occurs worldwide and is transmitted to humans by rat fleas. Flea-infested rats can be found throughout the year in humid tropical environments, but in temperate regions are most common during the warm summer months. Travelers who visit in rat-infested buildings and homes, especially in harbour or riverine environments, can be at risk for exposure to the agent of murine typhus.
Rat-bite fever (RBF): Rat-bite fever is a systemic bacterial illness caused by Streptobacillus moniliformis that can be acquired through the bite or scratch of a rodent or the ingestion of food or water contaminated with rat faeces.
Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium: As its name suggests, it causes a typhoid-like disease in mice. In humans Salmonella typhimurium does not cause as severe disease as Salmonella typhi, and is not normally fatal. The disease is characterized by diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and nausea, and generally lasts up to 7 days. Unfortunately, in immuno-compromised people, that is the elderly, young, or people with depressed immune systems, Salmonella infections are often fatal if they are not treated with antibiotics.
Leptospirosis: Leptospirosis (also known as Weil's syndrome, canicola fever, canefield fever, nanukayami fever, 7-day fever, Rat Catcher's Yellows, Fort Bragg fever, black jaundice, and Pretibial fever) is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. It is caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. In humans it causes a wide range of symptoms, and some infected persons may have no symptoms at all. Symptoms of leptospirosis include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches, and vomiting, and may include jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, or a rash. If the disease is not treated, the patient could develop kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, and respiratory distress. In rare cases death occurs.
Leptospirosis is among the world's most common diseases transmitted to people from animals. The infection is commonly transmitted to humans by allowing water that has been contaminated by animal urine to come in contact with unhealed breaks in the skin, the eyes, or with the mucous membranes. Outside of tropical areas, leptospirosis cases have a relatively distinct seasonality with most of them occurring in spring and autumn.
Eosinophilic Meningitis: Eosinophilic meningitis is an infection of the brain occurring in association with an increase in the number of eosinophils, white blood cells that are associated with infection with worms that penetrate into the body. The organism most commonly causing eosinophilic meningitis is a rat lung worm called Angiostrongylus cantonensis.
Rickettsialpox: is an illness caused by bacteria of the Rickettsia genus (Rickettsia akari). The bacteria is originally found in mice and cause mites feeding on the mice to become infected. Humans will get rickettsialpox when receiving a bite from an infected mite, not from the mice themselves. The mite is Liponyssoides sanguineus, which was previously known as Allodermanyssus sanguineus. The first symptom is a bump formed by the bite, eventually resulting in a black, crusty scab. Many of the symptoms are flu-like including fever, chills, weakness and achy muscles but the most distinctive symptom is the rash that breaks out, spanning the infected person's entire body.
Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by a fungus, which grows in pigeon droppings. It also grows in soils and is found throughout the world. When cleaning droppings a person may breathe in some of the fungus, which in cases of high exposure can cause infection. Common activities, such as cleaning off windowsills, will not result in high exposures.
Symptoms of histoplasmosis begin to appear about 10 days after initial infection and include fatigue, fever, and chest pains. Most people, however, do not show any symptoms. Those with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients or people living with HIV/AIDS are generally more at risk of developing histoplasmosis. The disease cannot be transmitted from person to person.
Cryptococcosis is another fungal disease associated with pigeon droppings and also grows in soils throughout the world. It is very unlikely that healthy people will become infected even at high levels of exposure. A major risk factor for infection is a compromised immune system. According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 85 percent of cryptococcosis patients are HIV-positive.
Psittacosis (also known as ornithosis or parrot fever) is a rare infectious disease that mainly affects parrots and parrot-like birds such as cockatiels, and parakeets, but may also affect other birds, such as pigeons. When bird droppings dry and become airborne people may inhale them and get sick.
In humans, this bacterial disease is characterized by: fatigue, fever, headache, rash, chills, and sometimes pneumonia. Symptoms develop about 10 days after exposure. Psittacosis can be treated with a common antibiotic.
Those at greatest risk include bird owners, pet shop employees, veterinarians, and people with compromised immune systems. No person-to-person cases have ever been reported.
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