Learn about rat poop diseases|dangers|cleanup.

What Diseases are Associated with Rat Poop?

The threats that rat droppings post will likely depend on the area/state/country in which you live. Certain viruses and bacteria are only found in hotter, more undeveloped countries, but that doesn’t mean they won’t ever find their way to the developed world — the United States, Europe, etc. In fact, HPS, also known as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, was only first discovered in the United States back in the early 1990’s and has now spread to most parts of the continent, by way of rats and rat scat.

The respiratory condition itself is actually quite rare, but there have been documented reports of rodents spreading it to people and other animals. The method of transmission is usually by coming into contact with contaminated fecal matter and urine from rats (and a few other culprits), but the disease can also be sent into the air and inhaled once the fecal matter has dried out. The virus then becomes aerosolized.

rat feces image

Rats can also contaminate food, water, and other items which are then ingested, by running in their urine and feces (because they defecate as they run along) and then touching or running in other materials. In this manner, they can transfer disease spores, including salmonella-causing bacteria, to animal feed, pet food, and even human food, and they can also contaminate water bowls, water sources, and even soils where plants, fruits, vegetables or herbs are growing.

Leptospirosis is another one that you can add to the list that is, once again, transferred to other animals and people by way of urine and rat turds. Direct contact also puts you at a greater chance of coming into contact with the bacteria in rat feces that causes this condition, and if not treated, goes on to develop into Weil’s Disease.

Rat-Bite Fever, Tularemia, and even Toxoplasmosis can all be caused by contact with urine and poop from rats, and also direct contact with the rodents themselves, alive or dead.

What's the Best Way to Clean Up Rat Poop?

The best way to clean up rat poop is to leave a professional to clean up rat scat, but we know that not everyone has the budget to stretch to allow an expert to come in and take care of the rat infestation. If you have decided to take on this challenge yourself, you’re going to need to get your battle gear ready.

These are the items you will need to have to hand:

  • Gloves — thick, rubber, protects your hands against rat bites, physical contact with contaminated material, and reduces the “ick” factor
  • Protective eye goggles — prevents any airborne particles from getting into your body by the soft tissue of the eyes, also stops you from putting your fingers in your eyes if you have made contact with contaminated material
  • Breathing mask — certain diseases, including HPS, can be transmitted through aerosolized disease particles, and rat poop is a known carrier
  • Coveralls — you can’t be too attached to them, either, as you’ll need to burn/dispose of them afterwards
  • Boots that can be disposed of, or covers for your boots that can be disposed of
  • Garbage bags
  • Scrubbing/cleaning equipment and agents
  • Flashlight
  • Pen and paper
  • Steel wool
  • Expanding foam or concrete patch
photo of rat poop trail

Ideally, you will have a fire at the end of it all to burn everything you used, right at the very end of the garden, and you’ll wear a breathing mask for that too.

You can never be too careful when rats and rat-borne diseases are concerned. The species once tried to finish our species once and for all in the Middle Ages, when plague was rife and rats were everywhere. We need to work hard to make sure that same situation doesn’t happen again, and sometimes that will mean a cull of the creatures. If you are using live cage traps, we recommend that you consider switching to snap traps, especially if the rat problem is one that consistently comes back, or there are large numbers of rats in that particular area.

Fecal matter can be swept away and placed into garbage bags, or a vacuum filter can be used. You must make sure that everything is properly and thoroughly cleaned afterwards, with bleach and disinfectants. Strong biological enzyme cleaners are actually advised when dealing with biological material from wild animals, as anything left behind will not only harbor disease, but will attract other pests, start to give off an awful stench, and will also still communicate pheromones to other rats, therefore, attracting them to the area.

You must work systematically around your home, inch by inch, making sure that nothing has been left behind. This might mean in the crawl spaces and wall cavities, up in the attic, down in the basement, and anywhere else that the rats have been. This can be a tough job, especially if you don’t know where the rats have been hanging out in your home … Just one more reason why hiring in the professionals is going to be such a good idea.

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