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I'm not an expert when it comes to the types of diseases that humans can contract from rats. I'm sure not all rat-related diseases are contagious to humans, but I have read of several lists of diseases that humans can, in fact, catch from rats. I suspect that many of these may be through transmission via contaminated food, or by contact with rat droppings, but I'm sure some are also transmitted directly from the animals. It's important to recognize that rats are not aggressive animals. They won't chase you down and attack you. They won't even bite you in your sleep. Rats are cowards, and they don't want to approach something 100x as large as themselves. Still, they will eat whatever they can get their mouths on, and they're known carriers or disease and pestilence. The most famous rat-related disease is of course the bubonic plague, but of course that's very rare now ...though I did read about a recent case discovered in California. A little research indicates that diseases transmittable to humans from rats include: Rat Bite Fever, Murine Typhus, Salmonellosis (bacterial food poisoning), Leptospirosis (Weils Disease), Trichinosis, Rickettsial Disease, Melioidosid, Pasteurellosis, and Brucellosis, possibly among others. I'm not going to pretend that I know anything about these diseases, although I do understand Salmonellosis, and I do know that most rat droppings contain salmonella. I also know of colleagues who have become seriously ill as a result of dealing with animal feces, and I am very careful when handling them. I always wear gloves and a HEPA filter mask.
You may want to click on one of these rat guides
that I wrote:
How much does rat removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of rats - my main rat removal info guide.
Example rat trapping photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Rat job blog - learn from great examples of rat jobs I've done.
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