WEJULI MIKE: Public Health Effects Associated With Rodents

Author; Wejuli Junior Mike (Photo/File/DailyExpress)

Most of us live with rodents especially the rats in our premises, yet some of us do not know that these come with an effect on the health of humans as they are vectors to zoonotic diseases.

According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), rats and mice worldwide spread over 35 diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through the handling of rodents, through contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, or through rodent bites. Diseases carried by rodents can also be spread to humans indirectly, through ticks, mites, or fleas that have fed on an infected rodent. Rodents generally are reservoirs for a number of human diseases being both intermediate infected hosts or as hosts for arthropod vectors such as fleas and ticks. Rodent populations are affected by weather conditions. In particular, warm, wet winters and springs increase rodent populations, which have been observed in recent years. Under climate change scenarios, rodent populations could be anticipated to increase in temperate zones, resulting in greater interaction between human beings and rodents and a higher risk of disease transmission, especially in urban areas and slum areas.

Below are a series of diseases that are associated with rodents that are zoonotic.

  • Plague:  This is a zoonosis caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis that is spread by fleas feeding on black rats (Rattus rattus). Milder weather conditions are favorable to rodent populations, while harsh weather conditions such as heatwaves might drive rodents indoors in search of water and thus increase contact with human beings
  • Hantavirus Infections:  Human beings are at risk of exposure through the inhalation of virus aerosol from the excreta of infected rodents. . Excess proliferation of rodent populations related to climatic changes is of considerable international public-health concern. Hantavirus infection is sensitive to climatic conditions.
  • Rat Bite Fever caused by Streptobacillus moniliformis or Spirillum minus is a bacterial infection of rodents that is transmitted through bites, scratches, direct contact with animals and their urine, saliva and feces or ingestion of contaminated food or water. Infected rodents typically exhibit no symptoms of disease. Tularemia is another bacterial infection of rodents

Others include Salmonellosis, campylobacterosis, and giardiasis which are acquired with contact. Thus rodent interaction with humans should be limited so as to prevent the risk of disease transmissions and below are some of the ways to prevent the rodent effects on health.

These measures could be physical such as trapping or chemical by using spays that irritate the rodents or kill them as well as the integrated method which involves introducing a predator such as the cats to reduce on the number of rodents

NB:  below are the important measures.

  • Wash hands frequently with clean water and soap
  • Ensure proper hygiene and cleanliness of the premises especially in the corners where the rodents like to inhabit clearly setting out traps to prevent the invasion of the rodents.

Rodents population in homes is mostly affected by weather as they respond rapidly to conducive weather conditions, such as heavy rain events which can directly or indirectly propagate rodent-borne pathogens as well as their invasion in the human premises and thus daily hygiene and inspection should be emphasized so as to prevent the public health impact of disease associated with the rodents.

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