Wildlife living in your home is more than a nuisance; it’s a potential threat. Not only do these uninvited guests cause safety hazards when they damage electrical wires and property, they also present a major health hazard. Wild animals carry diseases and bacteria that can transmit easily from themselves to you, your family, and your household pets.
Zoonotic diseases are those shared by humans and animals. Many of them are quite common in nature, and while some of these diseases have a mild risk overall, others are incredibly dangerous. Not all wildlife living in your home could appear infected, meaning it could be a while before you notice that a family member or pet is sick. Below are the main categories of zoonotic diseases and some specific ones within each.
You can become infected from bacterial zoonotic diseases after being bitten or scratched by wildlife living in your home. Infected animal bites and scratches puncture the skin, allowing infected saliva to seep into bite wounds in the underlying tissue. General symptoms indicating infection include pain, swelling, and inflammation.
Skunks, bats, and rats are just a few different critters carrying bacterial zoonotic diseases. Handling rodents with the disease (even without bites or scratches), bites or scratches from rodents themselves, and consuming food or drink contaminated with the bacteria are alternate methods for humans to contract bacterial zoonotic diseases.
Common bacterial zoonotic diseases include cat scratch and rat bite fever. Cat scratch gets its name exactly how it sounds, from the bite or scratch of an infected cat. Another way to contract this disease is when the saliva from an infected cat gets into an open wound or touches the whites of your eyes. Humans can contract rat bite fever from infected rodents or contaminated food or water. Failing to treat this disease can have serious, even fatal, results.
Carriers of viral zoonotic diseases include rats, birds, mice, and bats, among other rodents. These zoonotic diseases infect human hosts through neglected wounds and abrasions. In rodents and wildlife, these diseases can be contracted directly or through aerosol with others of their own species.
Two common viral zoonotic diseases include hantavirus and rabies. Humans become infected with hantavirus through contact with infected rodents or their urine and droppings. Rabies occurs through the bite of a rabid animal. It infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. Early symptoms are similar to many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort, worsening as the disease spreads.
Many viral diseases have no specific cure, and their effects range in severity levels. The few that are common to humans and wildlife have serious health consequences.
Fungi and inhalation cause mycotic diseases. Fungal spores found on wildlife living in your home can transfer through the air, dust, and room surfaces. Inhalation is the main way humans come into contact with these diseases. Treating soil contaminated with the disease is one common method of contact. Be sure to use masks and wear boots if stepping into unfamiliar terrain.
Like other zoonotic diseases, humans acquire mycotic ones from infected animals. Histoplasmosis, for example, is found in bird and bat droppings, and it reaches humans through inhalation of the spores in their feces. Dermatomycoses is another kind, and it affects the skin, hair and nails of humans, causing itching, redness, and hair loss. Generally, mycotic zoonotic diseases are only serious if the person is immunocompromised in some way.
Prevent the spread with proper and thorough hygiene after coming into contact with animals, and take your pet to the vet for the right shots. If you come into contact with any of these types of diseases, be sure to seek help and get treatment right away. To deal with the wildlife living in your home, call expert animal removal services.