Rodents like mice and rats can carry a host of diseases ranging from bacterial diseases to more serious viral diseases.

The hantavirus, rat fever, salmonellosis, and even bubonic (black) plague are all caused in one way or another from contact with rodent bites or rodent droppings and urine.

Conditions in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, as you’ll see, have made a condition known as leptospirosis all the easier to catch.

Although the aftermath of the hurricane is still being felt by millions, it’s important to know the risks so that you can react intelligently and keep yourself, your family, and your community safe.

Leptospirosis: What You Need to Know

The Centers for Disease Control says that leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and can potentially be lethal.

Although some people show no symptoms at all, the most common symptoms are kidney problems, respiratory (breathing) problems, liver damage or outright liver failure, and meningitis.

Meningitis is an extremely serious condition in which the membrane around your brain starts to swell. You might feel a severe headache or complain of a stiff neck if you’re experiencing the symptoms of meningitis brought on by leptospirosis.

  • How do people get it anyway? 

Leptospirosis is spread through contact with the urine of an infected animal, so certain people like farmers are particularly prone to getting this bacterial infection.

However, coming into contact with soil or water that’s been affected by the leptospirosis bacteria can be enough to become infected yourself. Rodents are particularly prone to passing this bacterial infection onto humans, so rodent control is definitely a good idea.

If you come into contact with either A) the urine of infected animals or B) soil or water that came into contact with the urine from an infected animal, then you might be at risk of getting leptospirosis.

Horses, cattle, and pigs, as well as some wild animals and household pets (dogs), can also be carriers of the bacterial infection. Rodents are a big carrier of this harmful disease.

  • Symptoms to look out for 

The reason that leptospirosis is hard for some doctors to diagnose is that the signs of infection can mimic other diseases.

Symptoms like fever, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and a slight rash can occur with dozens of other diseases and infections, but those are all symptoms to look out for with leptospirosis.

Since it can take up to a month to show symptoms (some people show symptoms within two days, however) you could easily mistake this infection for something more minor. Another curious aspect of this bacterial infection is that some people might do a good job of fighting it off…at first.

What happens is that an infected person’s immune system fights off the infection for a few days and the person seems to get better. Then the second stage of leptospirosis kicks in and the person might go from experiencing the headache and chills in stage one to more serious symptoms like meningitis.

This second, much more serious form of leptospirosis is called Weil’s disease and it requires immediate medical attention.

  • How to stay as safe as possible 

Enlisting professional help for rodent control is one way to stay safe. On a more day-to-day level, avoid wading or taking a swim in water that you think could be contaminated with urine.

Especially after the hurricane with all of the debris around, make sure to wear protective footwear and consider replacing open-toed sandals with boots or shoes.

Contact Oliver Exterminating to learn more about how you can combat this disease and for rodent control in your home or yard.

Leptospirosis: The Dangers and How to Best Combat This Growing Threat in Puerto Rico

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