Around the world, rats and mice are responsible for the spread of over 35 diseases that can easily be contracted by humans. The many diseases carried by rodents have different degrees of health risk associated with them and vary with their location in the world. The most widely known rodent-transmitted disease in the United States is the Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, an often deadly illness transmitted through the saliva, urine and feces of rodents. Hantavirus kills 38% of its human victims. The disease can be contracted through inhalation of the dust of dried rodent secretions. Direct contact with the animal or its fresh bodily product is not necessary.
Another related disease is Murine typhus, transmitted to humans by rat fleas. This typhus is usually mild in its effects, but severe cases can end in death. While rarely causing death, the leptospira bacteria in the rodent urine can set off a range of issues ranging from mild headache and fever to liver failure or respiratory distress. The list goes on. Even this abbreviated collection of the human health risks carried by rodents is cause for concern and action.
Ensure that your home is not harboring rodents and putting you in contact with the accompanying dangers to your health. This can be done by a pest control service or on your own. If you choose to perform the necessary tasks without professional help, however, it is extremely important to be aware of the risks that the cleanup itself can expose you to and to take all necessary precautions as you carry out the steps of stopping the infestation and cleaning up after rodent control has been achieved.
The first step in guarding your health is gaining control of rodents in and around your home. Achieving this control requires a combination of efforts, including getting rid of any food sources, securely closing all possible access points down to the smallest hole, and waging a successful trapping campaign of the rodents in your house as well as those in the surrounding outdoor areas.
As you engage in this first step, use appropriate materials to seal the openings. Remember that rats can chew many materials; steel wool combined with caulk is a good choice. When it comes to trapping, be aware that there is a difference between a mouse trap and a rat trap. You will have a choice between traps that capture live animals and those that kill them. In either case you need to choose and purchase traps with care and read up on use, effective placement and baits for the traps.
After you have sealed all entry points and set out traps for a week, evaluate your progress. If no more rodents have been caught, you can move on to the next step – clean up. Before attempting to clean any enclosed area, set up cross-ventilation and allow the air to clear for at least half an hour before beginning work. Maintain the airflow during the cleanup process.
Prepare yourself and your materials to safely and effectively disinfect the area. Mix a solution of 10 parts of water to one part of bleach and put on impermeable gloves; cotton garden gloves will not protect you. Fill a spray bottle with the bleach solution and grab a roll of paper towels. Pick up any visible dropping with a paper towel and dispose of it, and then spray the space with the bleach solution. Disinfect any items that may have been in contact with the rodents or their waste. Follow up with thorough cleaning of the whole area. Wipe down counters, mop floors, and shampoo any furniture or carpet that might have been affected. Finish by removing the gloves and carefully cleaning your hands with soap and water or an alcohol hand cleaner.
The importance of addressing the presence of rodents in your home should not be delayed or underestimated. When you consider the diseases that surround you when rodents are in residence, you cannot make any other decision than to face up to the problem. Whether you shoulder the task on your own or call a professional pest control company, clearing your home of rodents and their waste must be done. The goal is to protect yourself and your family from the debilitating and possibly even fatal effects of one of the 35 diseases your rodent invaders could be bringing you.