Public health vs Pests: Medical problems and infections from pests
The purpose of good pest management has always been to protect our health when certain animals come within problematic proximity to people.
Dr Alex Kew from University College London Hospitals has looked at the public health risks that arise from common pests to better educate and protect our clients.
RodentsRodents, primarily commensal rodents, have been associated with human disease and infection for hundreds if not thousands of years.
The black rat Rattus rattus, the brown rat Rattus norvegicus and the house mouse Mus musculus can spread many pathogens into urban dwellings.
One study in the UK found at least 13 different infections in the brown rat population, with a few individual rodents being found to carry 9 of the 13 infections all at the same time.
Regular defecation and urination of rodents, and movement around food sources can pose a particular health risk.
BacteriaSalmonella/Vibrio/Listeria spp These are all bacteria that can be caught from handling rodents or their droppings and urine.
Illness associated with these bacteria can range from mild self-limiting gastroenteritis and diarrhoea to severe sepsis and multi-organ failure.
By far and away the most common presentation, especially in people with normal immune systems, is of mild gastroenteritis, which can resolve on its own.
Leptospirosis This infection, caused by the bacterium Leptospira, often appears in the news after outdoor water swimmers become unwell and need antibiotic therapy.
Although swimming in rivers and lakes can expose people to Leptospirosis, the infection can be spread by any exposure to rodent urine or other infected bodily fluids.
This exposure also includes drinking or eating food items that have become contaminated with rodent urine.
Removing contaminated items and cleaning rodent urine and droppings, using correct precautions such as gloves and eye protection, is extremely important. Like many infections, Leptospirosis can be mild and self-limiting, presenting similarly to influenza.
However, some presentations can be much more severe with continuous high fevers, rash, headaches, muscle aches, chills, jaundice, kidney failure and bleeding, including blood in the sputum, urine, or faeces.
Severe Leptospirosis is dangerous and so medical therapy should be sought immediately in someone presenting with severe symptoms so antibiotics can be administered.
Rat-bite fever Commonly caused by the bacteria Streptobacillus moniliformis in Europe, this infection is not only spread by bites/scratches of rodents, hence the name, but can be spread by consumption of rodent excrement, often when people consume contaminated food items.
Symptoms can include rash, multiple painful joints, fevers, chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting. The infection can be significant and severe, and therefore antibiotic therapy is recommended for anyone suffering from rat-bite fever.
ParasitesHantavirus This RNA virus is acquired following exposure to rodent saliva, urine and faeces, and can cause a clinical syndrome with similarities to severe Leptospirosis.
Symptoms can include a non-specific flu-like illness but can progress in some people to kidney failure.
Much like Leptospirosis, anyone presenting with severe or worsening symptoms of fever, low blood pressure, worsening shortness of breath and bloody or dark coloured urine that can look like Guinness after rodent exposure, is advised to seek immediate medical review.
Hymenolepiasis Hymenolepiasis is caused commonly by two species of tapeworm – the dwarf and rat tapeworm.
Infection happens when humans ingest rodent excrement in contaminated food items, infected arthropods within food items or consume unintended infected material such as soil.
The infections themselves are often asymptomatic but can cause diarrhoea, abdominal pain, weakness and anorexia.
Cryptosporidiosis Caused by the microscopic parasites Cryptosporidium spp, infection is caused when surfaces, unwashed hands, soil or water and food becomes contaminated with the faeces of infected rodents or other people.
The most common symptom of cryptosporidium infection is severe watery diarrhoea, which can persist for two weeks and, on occasion, longer, especially in those with weakened immune systems.
Young children, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems can be particularly at risk of more severe diarrhoea.
As we can see, a number of these infections are acquired by consuming items contaminated with rodent excrement.
Therefore any person with close contact or exposure to rodents should take extra precautions to make sure surfaces, food items and other materials are thrown away or decontaminated, and kept as clean and hygienic as possible.
When you need effective pest control in the Wolverhampton, Walsall, Bilston Willenhall, Wednesbury or Dudley area,call Anti-Pest Pest Prevention Services.Call us today or go online: https://anti-pest.co.uk
Blog courtesy of: Professional Pest Controller (PPC)