Rats, diseases from

Rats are rodents that live close to human habitation. They damage and contaminate crops and food stores and can spread disease. The organisms responsible for plague and a type of typhus are transmitted to humans by the bites of rat fleas. Leptospirosis is caused by contact with anything contaminated by rat’s urine. Rat-bite fever is a rare infection transmitted directly by a rat bite. There are 2 types of this infection, caused by different bacteria. The symptoms include inflammation at the site of the bite and in nearby lymph nodes and vessels, bouts of fever, a rash, and, in one type, painful joint inflammation. Treatment for both types is with antibiotic drugs. Rabies virus can be transmitted by the bites of infected rats. Lassa fever, also a viral disease, may be contracted from the urine of rats in West Africa. Rats also carry the viral infection lymphocytic chorio-meningitis, as well as the bacterial infection tularaemia.


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