In Rats, News

Rats are found in many urban and rural environments in Quebec, and they often live near humans. Living close to rats can pose a health risk, as rats are known to carry potentially dangerous diseases. If you know what these diseases are and how they are transmitted, you can do what’s necessary to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Our rat exterminators describe which diseases can be transmitted from rats to humans, symptoms to watch out for and essential preventive measures. Your health is precious, so don’t let rats become a threat!

Rat diseases: understanding the risks and symptoms

Rodents are the most abundant and diverse order of living mammals in the world. With more than 2,200 species, they are found almost everywhere. There are many rodent species living in Quebec.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection common in rodents, particularly rats. The disease can be spread to humans through direct contact with the feces, urine or saliva of infected rats.

Rodents carrying leptospirosis may appear healthy, making it difficult to tell they carry the disease. Nonetheless, they can excrete bacteria into their environment, and put humans who come into contact with these contaminants at risk. To avoid any problems, get rid of rodents as quickly as possible!

What are the symptoms of infection by a rat disease?

When a person is infected with a disease transmitted by a rat, they may experience a variety of symptoms, which can vary in intensity. The most common symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pain, chills, nausea and vomiting.

In the most severe cases, complications such as kidney, liver or respiratory problems can occur. It’s important to note that symptoms will differ according to the type of infection and accurate diagnosis is crucial to appropriate treatment.

Consulting a doctor if you feel sick

If you suspect you have been infected by a rat disease, either because your symptoms persist or you’ve been exposed to rats or their waste, consult a healthcare professional immediately.

Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help prevent potential complications and promote a speedy recovery. Don’t underestimate the signs of infection, and always seek medical assistance to get the care you need. Leptospirosis, among other rat diseases, is a serious condition, but with the right treatment, you can recover.

9 diseases spread by rats to humans

The human body has an incredible defense mechanism: our immune system. This system, which is unique to each individual, provides protection against many infectious diseases.

However, a rodent problem can put our immune system to the test and an infestation can cause a lot of concern. If you discover rodents in your home we highly recommend hiring a rat or mouse exterminator, to avoid falling victim to one of the following infections.

1. Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by the bacterium Leptospira, which is transmitted through animal urine. Rodents are the main carriers. The disease can usually be treated by antibiotics, but severe cases may require hospitalization.

Leptospirosis is not very common in Quebec and is primarily found in tropical regions.

2. Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis is a disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella. It is transmitted by eating contaminated food.

The disease often has no symptoms, but can sometimes cause stomach aches, fever, nausea or vomiting. Most people recover after a few days, without needing treatment.

3. Rat bite fever

When rats invade, they don’t just attack your food: they can bite you. A rat bite can lead to a high fever and a skin rash caused by bacteria that naturally live in the rat’s mouth. Symptoms sometimes last up to several months without treatment. Fortunately, antibiotics can rid your system of the bacteria completely.

4. Tularemia

Tularemia is a disease caused by the bacterium F.tularensis, which can be transmitted to humans who eat contaminated food, are bitten or come into contact with an infected surface. This bacterium infects the skin, and fever and joint pain are the main symptoms.

In Canada, tularemia is transmitted primarily by wild rabbits and rodents. It is usually treated with Streptomycin.

5. Meningitis

Meningitis is a disease that results in inflammation of the meninges, the fluid and membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.  It can be transmitted by various animals, including rodents. Fever and neck stiffness are the 2 main symptoms that should raise concern.

There are 2 types of meningitis: viral, which is the most common, and bacterial. Bacterial meningitis is fatal in 1 out of 10 cases. We warned you: rats don’t mess around!

6. Cysticercosis

In humans, cysticercosis can develop after eating meat infected by the larvae of the Taenia solium parasite. The larvae get into body tissues and form cysts.

Symptoms can differ among infected individuals, sometimes making diagnosis and treatment difficult.

7. Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis is usually transmitted in winter by domestic rodents, who have been infected by mice carrying the disease.

Although it is often asymptomatic, you may experience flu-like symptoms (fever, lack of appetite, nausea, etc.). The virus can be eradicated with drugs or hospitalization.

8. Bubonic plague

The bubonic plague is caused by a violent bacterium called Yersinia pestis. Rats indirectly carry the bacterium to humans via fleas, who transmit the bacterium when they bite.

This serious disease, present throughout America, Africa and Asia, is fatal if it is not treated promptly. Fortunately, cases of infection are very rare.

9. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a serious and sometimes fatal respiratory disease. Anyone who comes into contact with rodents carrying this type of virus is at risk.

Mouse and rat infestations are the main source of exposure to hantaviruses. Even healthy people are vulnerable to serious symptoms due to HPS.

diseases transmited by rats to humans

Do domestic rats transmit disease?

Domestic rats, unlike wild rats, are generally bred in captivity and have become popular pets. Although a domestic rat is less likely to transmit disease than a wild rat, it’s still a good idea to take some precautions.

Precautions when keeping a pet rat

Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling your rat.

Avoid bringing your rat into direct contact with your face, especially your mouth and eyes. Avoid rough handling too, to minimize your chances of being bitten. Disposable gloves are recommended if you have cuts or scratches on your hands.

Bear in mind that every animal is different, and some pet rats may be more aggressive or vulnerable to health problems. Be careful!

Tips for choosing a healthy pet rat

When choosing a pet rat, we recommend going to reputable breeders or animal shelters. Choose a rat that looks active, alert and healthy, with a shiny coat and no obvious signs of disease.

Take your rat to a veterinarian who specializes in exotic pets for a complete exam as soon as your pet arrives home. Always make sure you keep the cage clean and feed your pet a balanced diet.

How to avoid diseases transmitted by rats

By understanding the risks associated with rat diseases, you’ll be better equipped to protect your health and those around you. Find out how!


Rigorous hygiene is crucial to preventing rat-related infections. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after handling potentially contaminated objects.

Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose and eyes, to reduce the risk of transmission via mucous membranes. Maintaining good personal hygiene is an essential first line of defense against rat-borne diseases.

Avoid exposure to rat droppings and bites

To avoid exposure to rat droppings and bites, wear protective gloves and make sure you wear closed shoes when in rat-infested areas.

You should also avoid provoking or handling rats to minimize the risk of being bitten. If you are bitten by a rat, clean the wound immediately with soap and water, then consult a healthcare professional.

Restricting rat access to homes

Keep your home clean and do what you can to keep rats out to limit your exposure to rat-borne diseases. Eliminate food and water sources that could attract rats. Store food in airtight containers and regularly clean areas where rodents could hide, like attics, cellars and garages. Repair cracks and openings in walls, floors and foundations to limit rats’ access to your home. If you discover a rat infestation, consider hiring exterminators in Montreal for safe and effective pest control treatment.

Call Elite Pest Control to prevent rats from spreading serious diseases

Rats have lived alongside humans for centuries, and it is widely known that they can transmit many diseases in various ways. Although some of these diseases are easily treatable, others can be dangerous. Rats do pose a risk to human health.

It is important to get rid of rodents as soon as you find them in your home. To help you protect your family’s health, Elite Pest Control offers a professional rat extermination service. Contact us now for all your pest control needs.

Pascal Rock
Pascal Rock  
Director, Elite Pest Control
Founder and mainstay of Elite Pest Control, Pascal Rock has embodied expertise and dedication for over a decade. His training, acquired with expert mentors in extermination and pest decontamination, has shaped an outstanding professional. Under his leadership, a team of six seasoned technicians deploys the very best pest control strategies. Together, they ensure the peace of mind and safety of residents and professionals from Montreal to Quebec City, by offering fast, effective interventions, available at all times.