Category Archives: Rodents

Rat bite fever hits Washington

Residents in Washington last week reported cases of rat bite fever, an illness transmitted by rodents. A press release Friday announced the reports are from the Chelan-Douglas Health District and Grand County.

Rat bite fever is caused by bacteria found naturally in rodents' mouths. The disease can affect humans and pets through bites and contact with urine or secretion from the mouth, eyes or nose of an infected animal.

The disease can be carried by rodents, weasels and feral cats and dogs, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

While there are no known instances of person-to-person transmission, the disease is most commonly seen in children. Symptoms of rat bite fever include chills, fever, joint pain or swelling and rash.

Local newspaper The Wenatchee World warned that disease-carrying rodents could contaminate food, water and unpasteurized milk.

To avoid coming into contact with animals that may carry the bacteria, it's a good idea to seal up any holes or cracks in walls, basements and attics and to eliminate moisture indoors.

Homeowners should also place trash in thick bags  and dump garbage in secure containers. Pet food should never be left outside and all food items indoors should be tightly sealed. If residents suspect a rodent problem, they should contact a pest control professional promptly to avoid property damage and prevent the spread of disease.

Preventing roof rat infestations

As fall quickly turns into winter, many pests attempt to sneak their way into warm homes in search of food and shelter. Roof rats are named after their tendency to infest attics and the upper portions of structures, but they can be found in lower levels of buildings as well. Their tendency to chew up materials and ravage stored food can be extremely troublesome and dangerous for many households. In addition to damaging wiring and insulation, roof rats can spread infectious diseases such as salmonella and rat-bite fever to residents and pets via saliva, urine and droppings. Throughout history, roof rats have also been notorious for spreading plague.

Protecting the home
There are several steps homeowners can take to avoid inviting roof rats into their houses this season. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommends sealing up any holes or cracks larger than a quarter that appear in outdoor walls, piping and foundation.

Like most pests, roof rats look for sources of moisture. It's therefore a good idea to repair leaky faucets, pipes and water heaters. After heavy rain, homeowners may want to inspect attics and basements for water damage. Residents can also purchase a dehumidifier to eliminate moisture buildup.

The NPMA also suggests keeping trees and shrubs trimmed and away from buildings and cleaning up trash outdoors and around areas in which garbage is stored  to avoid attracting roof rats. Homeowners should also always seal trash in bags and place it in tightly covered bins.

Spotting roof rats
There are several noticeable characteristics that can help homeowners identify roof rats. They grow between six and eight inches long, not including their tails, and are usually black or dark brown. The University of Arizona's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences explains roof rats often treck through oil and dirt and leave their traces around rafters and other high places.

Scurrying sounds coming from the attic at night are also a sign of roof rat presence, as these pests search for food after sunset.

Roof rats are attracted to fruit hanging on trees and on the ground nearby. They make small holes in fruit peels to suck out the pulp and leave behind empty rinds, which are sign for property owners with orange trees to look out for. It's a good idea to harvest fruit consistently and to clean up fallen produce to keep the pests from having a food source close to a home. 

Upon noticing these signs or spotting roof rats, homeowners should call an exterminator to eliminate the infestation quickly and efficiently.

Marsh rats plague residents

Residents in areas of South Carolina are reporting increasing numbers of marsh rats, according to The Island Packet.

Local pest control organizations report sending crews to almost every plantation and roughly 50 to 60 homes per week in the area to catch the rodents and prevent them from causing damage to local residences. Some professionals believe because of warmer temperatures last winter, marsh rats were better able to survive. Meanwhile, the large amount of rain this year has provided the water necessary to support a growing population.

However, some local pest management professionals told the newspaper the population hasn't changed since last year, and the large amount of recent sightings can be attributed to high tides bringing the critters closer to coastal homes.

Whether the number of marsh rats has increased or not, the cold weather is sure to push these animals to seek warm havens, such as attics, storage spaces and other parts of homes, making it essential for homeowners to be aware of the pests.   

Rodents cause problems for homeowners
The Island Packet states many residents in Hilton Head Island, Bluffton and surrounding areas are concerned about contracting infectious diseases from the rats. While there have been no recent reports of hantavirus, the disease spreads through rodent droppings, saliva and urine and could show up in the area if pest populations are not kept under control. The illness can turn into Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, which can be fatal, according to the CDC.

To avoid attracting marsh rats and other rodents into buildings or onto their property, homeowners should fill all gaps and holes in outside walls, around fireplaces and doors and along piping. It's a good idea to place trash in thick plastic or metal garbage cans with strong lids to prevent the critters from seeking food near a home.

Pet food should never be left outside and should be stored in sealed containers indoors. Homeowners may want to clean up trash, brush and weeds and trim their property's grass and shrubbery to eliminate any potential hiding places for pests. According to the CDC, old tires and cars should be disposed of as mice and rats may nest in them.

If homeowners find rodent droppings, they should clean the area cautiously and call an exterminator immediately. This will help residents prevent potential property damage and rodent-related disease.

Keeping pets safe from rodent and raccoon infestations

Raccoons, mice, rats and other critters can be a nuisance to homeowners. They wreak havoc on garbage cans, damage property and can cause destruction in attics and roofs if they decide to nest inside a home. While annoying, rodents and their relatives can also be be very dangerous to household pets. 

The risks
Raccoons and rats can carry diseases such as rabies, roundworm, canine distemper and leptospirosis which can be spread to pets through contaminated fecal matter, urine, water and bites. This puts outdoor animals like dogs and cats at serious risk of infection and in some cases, these diseases can be fatal for man's best friend.

Rats and mice can act as hosts to a myriad of fleas, mites and ticks which can infect pets and transmit disease through blood exchange. Even though outdoor cats sometimes hunt smaller rodents, pet owners should keep their furry friends away from these potentially dangerous pests and vigilantly monitor their skin for signs of bites or parasites.

In addition to spreading disease, rodents can be dangerously unpredictable. While some larger pests may not display aggressive behavior immediately, they can become very hostile around other animals. To avoid inadvertently putting pets in harm's way, homeowners should keep a close eye on any suspected infestations in the yard or indoors, and ensure their animals have up-to-date vaccinations to prevent disease.

Keeping pests at bay
Raccoons and rodents are omnivorous, meaning they'll eat nearly anything – including trash and pet food. Homeowners should always tie garbage bags tightly to avoid making their waste an easy meal and it's also a good idea to vigilantly secure trash can lids and place bins behind a gate or door. It's important to feed pets indoors to avoid luring raccoons or other pests into the backyard. Homeowners should inspect their yards before nightfall to ensure no bones or treats are left outside to attract unwelcome critters.

Preventing a problem
Because raccoons and many rodents are nocturnal, homeowners can avoid contact between pests and pets by keeping dogs and cats indoors at night, but they should keep in mind pests can access homes through pet doors and take necessary measures to secure these entry points overnight.

It's important to remember the dangers pests present to animals can also affect humans, especially small children. Scare tactics such as bright lights and loud noises only work to keep critters away temporarily and larger female animals with litters, such as mother raccoons, are especially aggressive. Raccoons and rodents that are active during the day and don't seem afraid of humans may have rabies, a disease which poses a threat to both pets and humans. In order to protect their pets, families and residences from a potentially dangerous infestation, homeowners should call a rodent control professional at the first sign of a pest problem.

Hurricane displaces rats

A massive hurricane has rocked communities along the East Coast and it may be bad news for those fearful of pest problems. Rodents may be a big issue for residents heading back to New York City once the streets are free from water and debris. The need for rodent control may grow in the coming weeks as rats move into new homes and stir up trouble for residents.

Chased out of their habitats
The majority of the rats that call the New York subway home have likely been displaced, since the subway system flooded and forced them to move to drier areas to survive. While some residents may have hopes that many of the pests drowned and won't be a nuisance any longer, this likely isn't the case. Rats are able to swim and climb, making it probable that most escaped the rising water in the subway tunnels.

Moving and spreading disease
Because the rodents were pushed out of their homes underground, they'll be seeking new homes once the flooding lets up. A local pest control expert told the Huffington Post that if the storm disrupted the rats to a great extent, they may begin to invade areas they never previously lived in, meaning more people throughout the city may soon be having problems with rodent infestations. Rats driven out of their homes by water may be sneaking into apartment buildings, offices and homes causing trouble for residents.

Rat movement isn't a mere annoyance – it can also be a potential health hazard. Rodents are notorious for carrying serious illnesses that can be fatal in humans, and the first sign of a home infestation should be taken very seriously. Humans that come into contact with rodents, their droppings or their urine could become infected with a variety of diseases such as the plague, salmonella, hantavirus and typhus. The threat of these illnesses should be taken seriously and always handled by a medical professional.

Handling the problem
As residents begin to make their way home once the storm clears, they'll need to keep a close watch to ensure their homes and offices aren't infested with disease-carrying rodents. As soon as a problem is discovered, it needs to be reported to pest control professionals who are experienced in handling rodent infestations. Once an exterminator removes the problem, residents can breathe easily once again.

Plague worries residents

Some California residents are worried about rodent control near their homes. Several critters in the state have tested positive for the bubonic plague, a disease that wiped out entire communities hundreds of years ago. Many are concerned about becoming infected with the disease, or putting their families and pets at risk, but with basic knowledge, most should be able to avoid coming down with the illness.

What is the plague and how does it spread?
The plague has been around for hundreds of years and can be carried by mice, rats, chipmunks and squirrels. The disease can be transmitted by fleas or rodents, and even though it's typically treatable, it can sometimes be fatal. For this reason, it's essential to take steps to prevent becoming infected with the plague.

Symptoms of the plague include fever, swollen lymph nodes and weakness. Those suffering from such symptoms should see a physician to ensure their illness isn't the plague.

Preventing disease
One of the most important steps in staying plague-free is keeping homes free of rodents. Rats and mice can easily find their way into homes, and frequently do so to find shelter as the temperature drops throughout the autumn and winter. Cracks and holes should be sealed up as soon as they are noticed to prevent rodents from entering residences and potentially bringing disease with them. Food should be sealed to keep pests from sneaking inside for a meal.

Even if a home is free from pests, that doesn't necessarily mean its residents have no cause for concern. Precautions should still be taken to ensure no family member contracts this serious illness. Children should be warned to stay away from rodents while playing outside, and they should be instructed to never pick up or touch any wild animals – even rodents that look healthy could be carrying the plague. Burrows in backyards should be fenced off so pets can't start digging in them and chasing rodents, and family pets should visit the vet consistently to ensure they will always be protected against fleas that can spread the illness.

Once a rodent problem is noticed, it's important to immediately contact pest control professionals to handle the problem. Whether a homeowner has discovered droppings, nibbled food or a live rat, it's essential to have the situation taken care of as soon as possible. A rodent problem can get worse quickly, and having an exterminator take care of the issue right away will help to prevent the spread of disease and the other problems that come with a rodent infestation.

Hurricanes could bring pest problems

Hurricanes have the potential to seriously disrupt everyday life. When a storm hits an area, its strong winds, rain and resulting flooding can cause major damage to a community. However, there's another way hurricanes can damage an area – by bringing in an influx of pests. With Hurricane Sandy threatening part of the country, these storm-related issues are a concern for many on the East Coast.

After a storm, many return to their homes to find damage from water or wind, but they may not be expecting to discover a problem with insects, as well. Because hurricanes and other storms can displace or disorient wildlife, the potential of bug problems goes up drastically. The South Carolina Department of Public Health and Environmental Control reported that the frequency of insect bites can increase by up to 50 percent after a storm.

Insect issues
Once homeowners are sure it's safe to return to their residences, there are several things they can do to reduce the risk of unwelcome pests invading their houses. Downpours can increase the number of mosquitoes in an area, so it's essential to drain any standing water to eliminate breeding areas. Even if there are no puddles around, it's still important to take precautions, as mosquitoes can carry diseases. Making sure screens are free from rips is key to prevent the pests from entering a home, and when going outside residents should always wear bug repellent to keep the mosquitoes from biting.

Rodent invasions
Rodents can also be a concern for communities after a hurricane hits. While winds are high, trash may be blown about, which attracts rats to an area. Upon returning to their residence, homeowners should make sure there is no trash or food outside their homes to keep the critters at bay. Any holes or cracks caused by storm damage should be sealed as soon as possible – it's not hard for a rodent to sneak into a residence through a small crevice.

If homeowners return to their communities after a hurricane to find that insects and rodents have taken over, it's essential to bring in a professional exterminator. Because many pests can carry disease, they need to be removed from homes as quickly as possible. Without taking care of the issue in a timely fashion, residents may only find that the problem will get worse over the coming days and weeks. A pest control professional can help to ensure unwelcome critters are eliminated from a household, and that it is habitable once more.

Rodents abound on East Coast

Residents on the East Coast appear to be dealing with large numbers of rodents these days. From college students to working professionals, it seems that many are unable to escape the pests that are plaguing urban areas, and plenty of people are fed up with the mice or rats they're discovering in their homes.

Rodents on the rise
People living in the Boston area are becoming concerned with the number of rats invading their neighborhoods, while the critters are also making their way into homes and businesses. Aside from coming indoors, they're also making nests, holes and burrows in backyards and open spaces.

Busy neighborhoods around Boston aren't the only areas seeing large rodent populations. The Harvard Crimson reported that students around Cambridge are also finding more rodent infestations than usual. Students claim to have found rodents all over campus, both inside and out. They've also been spreading to the local train station.

The Harvard Crimson referenced local pest control expert George Williams who said the large rodent population is because the Greater Boston is a very old urban area.

"There are tunnels that lead to tunnels that lead to even more tunnels that we don't even know about," he said to the paper.

New York City is also having a problem with rodents, and one resident is taking advantage of the issue to exercise his terriers, some of whom were bred for ratting in the past. He has the dogs chase down the rodents, even if they don't catch many, New York NBC affiliate WNBC reported.

People in the Boston area are dealing with the pests in more traditional ways – by setting traps, keeping their homes and gardens free from resources rodents need and by calling exterminators if the problem gets out of hand.

Keeping rodents at bay
There's nothing more startling for a homeowner than finding a rodent lurking in a corner of their home. While mice and rats typically aren't very aggressive, their presence can still be dangerous. They can carry diseases, contaminate food and reproduce quickly, making it essential to get rid of the critters before the problem gets out of control or a family member falls ill. Residents who notice signs of an infestation shouldn't hesitate to contact pest control professionals who can handle the situation and rid a home of rodents.

Hantavirus scare should ensure residents check homes for mice

Yosemite National Park visitors have been experiencing a scare recently, as more vacationers who stayed at the wilderness park are coming down with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.

Although it is a rare illness, the disease can be fatal. The park has thus far learned of four cases of the disease, two of which have led to death.

Officials are contacting those who stayed in the park's Curry Village this summer, advising them to be aware of hantavirus symptoms. The park has advised that every Yosemite visitor should keep an eye out for signs of infection.

The disease is carried by mice and can spread to humans that come into contact with an infected mouse's urine, droppings or saliva. It may take weeks for signs of the disease to develop after a victim has come into contact with an infected mouse. Early symptoms of hantavirus include fever, aches and pains, chills and dizziness. Once the illness has progressed, it results in coughing, shortness of breath and fluid filling the lungs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Homeowners, especially those who live in rural areas, should be aware of any mouse activity near their homes to prevent coming into contact with the virus. Simple steps such as storing food in airtight containers and keeping homes clean and free of clutter and trash will give mice less of a reason to enter the home. However, as a precaution, any holes or gaps that could provide entry to the home should be closed off, no matter how small they appear. Mice need only a tiny space to enter a home, potentially bringing hantavirus with them.

Those who come across a room or structure infested with mice should take precautions to avoid picking up the disease. A building with a mouse problem should have the windows opened to air out the space, but caution should be taken so an individual does not disturb any dust. Areas covered in mouse droppings or urine should be sprayed with a disinfectant and left to sit for several minutes before cleaning. The waste should be tightly sealed and thrown out immediately.

The same process applies to those who find a dead mouse in their home. The rodents should be sprayed, bagged and tossed. If live pests are discovered, they should not be touched. A mouse infestation should be handled by pest control professionals who can ensure the rodents will no longer pose a threat to the household.

The dangers of a rodent infestation

Even though some people may think they're cute, a rodent infestation in a home is nothing to smile about. Aside from causing damage to the house and being a nuisance, a rodent infestation can be a serious health hazard. Rats and mice both spread disease when they enter homes, and these health risks can be fatal. These illnesses can be spread in several ways, so even if you haven't seen a rodent indoors yet, one could be lurking behind the walls, contaminating your home.

Rodent bites
Even though rodent bites are not very common, it is important to avoid them at all costs. A bite from a sick mouse or rat can spread disease to humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infected rodent bites can transmit Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis, the plague and other serious illnesses. If there is an infestation in your home, take care to avoid bites by not handling the pests and leave their removal to an exterminator.

Tainted food
Just like humans, rodents need to eat. Because mice will sometimes get into pantries and cupboards for a snack, it is important to store food in airtight containers if a rodent infestation is suspected. Once in a pantry, the mice can contaminate your food with their urine and droppings. Rodents can also contaminate food left out on counters and tables. Unintentionally eating this food can result in the spread of disease to humans. It is not uncommon for homeowners with rodent infestations to unknowingly ingest foods that have been soiled with mouse droppings or urine. Eating these foods can spread Leptospirosis, Rat-Bite Fever, Salmonellosis or Tularemia, according to the CDC.

Breathing contaminated air
Even if you're keeping an eye out for rodents and taking the proper food-storage precautions to deter rodents from your pantry, there's still a chance rodents could be spreading disease. You don't need to come into direct contact with a rat or inadvertently ingest bad food to become ill from a rodent infestation. Simply breathing their air or dust that is tainted with rodent urine or droppings is enough to sicken some households. Unknowingly inhaling contaminated dust can result in illnesses such as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, Hemorrhagic Fever or Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis.

Because a rodent infestation can be a serious health hazard, it is important to handle the problem swiftly. Making a call to pest control experts will ensure that rodents are eliminated from your home and the risk of disease is eliminated.