NPHC Tips to Prevent Rodent-Borne Diseases

Before the active gardening season starts, the National Public Health Centre specialists warn the gardeners to thoroughly clean the garden and farmhouse buildings after the winter. Over the winter, uninvited guests - rodents that spread dangerous infectious diseases - may have visited the premises. In this report you will find out what diseases they may cause, what you can do to prevent them and how to reduce the likelihood of rodent infestations.  

Leptospirosis is one of the most dangerous diseases

Rodents are carriers and transmitters of infectious diseases. The most common diseases they spread are leptospirosis, yersiniosis, listeriosis, pseudotuberculosis, trichinellosis, tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease.  

These diseases can be contracted by humans through direct contact with rodents, their saliva, urine, faeces, bites or scratches (e.g. yersiniosis, leptospirosis, pseudotuberculosis). Some diseases are contracted indirectly from rodents, through ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, and other arthropods that have fed on the blood or secretions of infected rodents (tick-borne encephalitis, Lyme disease, rickettsiosis etc.).

One of the most dangerous infectious diseases transmitted by rodents is leptospirosis. It is usually transmitted by various species of mice and rats. Isolated cases of leptospirosis are reported in Lithuania as well. People most often get the infection when bathing and drinking or using water from open bodies of water for domestic purposes, or by direct contact with infected rodents, their urine or other body fluids. The specialists warn that domestic animals such as cows, pigs, sheep, dogs, cats and horses can also spread the disease. A healthy person does not contract leptospirosis from an infected person.

Symptoms of leptospirosis manifest suddenly: the temperature rises to 39-40 degrees, and there are pains in the head, loins, and especially in the calf muscles. Sometimes nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain may occur. In some patients symptoms of jaundice manifest. It may cause kidney damage, meningitis, and rash. 5-10% of patients develop a severe form of the disease and kidney or liver failure.

Tips to protect your home and health from rodents:  

•    When visiting a farmhouse or cottage after winter, wipe all surfaces thoroughly with warm, soapy water and ventilate the premises;
•    Keep all cooking utensils tightly closed;
•    Wash vegetables and fruit thoroughly with running water;
•    Do not eat food that has been chewed or contaminated by rodents (fruit, vegetables, bread, etc.);
•    Do not drink water from open bodies of water, as water rats and muskrats, which often suffer from leptospirosis, may have contaminated the water with their faeces and urine;
•    Seal cracks and openings in the foundations of buildings;
•    Take good care of your premises and surroundings: do not accumulate food waste or rubbish, and mow the grass regularly (do not let it grow taller than 10 cm);
•    Remove climbing plants that have grown on the buildings;
•    Follow hygiene rules, wash your hands frequently with soap or disinfect with disinfectants.

What to do if you have a rodent infestation

To protect your home and the environment and to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, it is essential to eliminate rodent without delay. They can be controlled by authorised biocidal products. Indoors, where biocidal products cannot be used, various mechanical and automatic traps and other non-chemical alternatives may be used. They are available in veterinary pharmacies.  
If you face a difficulty fighting rodents, you may need to call and ask help for a professional rodent removal service. They will select the adequate and effective chemicals to eradicate them.