Do Squirrels Carry Diseases?
Rodents such as mice and rats are infamous for spreading a number of fatal diseases. Unlike their fellow rodents, squirrels don’t have that same reputation but nonetheless carry some diseases.
Squirrels live peacefully with humans and don’t attack or bite us. However, they are capable of transmitting some diseases to us. Sometimes it can be intentional, other time unintentional. Let’s have a look at some diseases transmitted by squirrels. Then we can give some advice on how to avoid catching any of them.
• Diseases Caused by Squirrels •
A bacterium known as Leptospira causes this common disease in many wild animals. Since squirrels share the same habitat with these wild animals, they can catch the disease from another infected animal. A person usually gets infected with this disease if they have an open wound like a scratch, a bite or even a rash comes in contact with the squirrels’ urine or feces.
Initially, the victim infecting by this disease will suffer from flu-like symptoms ranging from minor to severe which include:
- a headache
Usually, people who suffer from these mild symptoms confuse it with other infections instead of Leptospirosis. But if you are facing an infestation of squirrels around you then it’s better to consult a doctor just to be safe. Mild symptoms of Leptospirosis are curable and can be treated at home with antibiotics, but in case of severe infections, the victim may be hospitalized.
If left untreated, Leptospirosis can result in life-threatening infections including organ failures such as kidney and liver, as well as internal bleeding and meningitis.
Squirrels are not in the habit of biting humans, but that doesn’t mean they can’t transmit a disease to us like Lyme disease. Lyme disease is generally associated with ticks, but squirrels are in many ways a perfect host for ticks.
Squirrels have furry bodies that ticks love, and live in heavily forested green areas where ticks are in abundance. Therefore, squirrels are usually carrying Lyme disease-causing bacteria with them, and can spread it to humans. Common symptoms of Lyme disease include:
- skin rash
- a headache
- inflammatory disorders
If Lyme disease isn’t treated on time it may result in arthritis, heart palpitations, and facial palsy. Antibiotics should be administered at the earliest to prevent severe symptoms.
One of the oldest and most common diseases humans catch from animals is rabies. Rabies is curable in today’s world, and people are well aware of the problem. But many people don’t know that if left untreated it can cause death.
Wild animals, including squirrels, act very strange when they are suffering from rabies. Squirrels could be aggressive or hyper. It’s possible they feel lethargic and weak. The virus attacks a squirrel’s nervous system, and gradually spreads throughout their entire body eventually resulting in their death.
Animals transmit the rabies virus to people through their bites. Now, as we said earlier, squirrels are not known for attacking, scratching or biting people. But, also as we noted earlier, the rabies virus van make them aggressive.
Squirrels have the potential to bite if the disease makes them aggressive. It is extremely rare, but not impossible to catch rabies from squirrels.
Rabies can’t be overlooked because of the dangers attached with the disease. Initial symptoms of rabies are similar to those of Leptospirosis, and include: a headache, weakness, and fever.
It’s always best to start treatment immediately if bitten by a rabid animal. The acute conditions are very catastrophic, and can result in insomnia, confusion, paralysis, and ultimately death. Wash the infected area, bite or wound instantly, and consult a doctor.
Salmonellosis is the result of Salmonella bacteria into your bloodstream. This bacteria is readily found in the feces of almost all wild animals. Symptoms of Salmonellosis are similar to those of food poisoning, and includes:
- intestinal cramps
Infants or elderly people infected by Salmonellosis may suffer from lethal health-related complications, and will need proper hospitalization for recovery. Treatment for Salmonellosis includes replenishing electrolytes and hydration.
Francisella tularensis is the bacteria which is responsible for causing this disease. A person can easily get infected by any sort of physical contact with the infected squirrel; living or dead. Even if you come in contact with their droppings, water or food contaminated by the infected squirrels.
Unlike other infections which enter the blood stream through damaged skin or an open wound, Tularemia can enter the undamaged skin of humans. Once it enters the body it grows in the blood, and the victim will start experiencing symptoms. Symptoms of this disease include:
- skin ulcers
- swollen lymph glands
- high fever
- a headache
Tularemia is usually curable with antibiotics. Consult a doctor if you experience any symptoms to avoid ill-fated consequences.
• Preventing Diseases Spread by Squirrels •
To answer the initial question, “Do squirrels carry diseases?”, the answer is clearly yes, despite the fact it is rare to get infected by them. And even though most of the diseases aren’t life-threatening, staying cautious never hurts. So, if you are handling squirrels, or any wild life for that matter, follow these steps to avoid any kind of infection:
- Avoid physical contact as much as you can.
- Give them space to move, and don’t try to catch them barehanded.
- Trap them with the help of squirrel traps. Many you can find available on the market.
- Wipe away squirrel urine and feces by wearing gloves, and throw it in a trash bin away from home.
- Contact professional wildlife removal services if you come across infected or sick squirrels, it can be very dangerous to approach them without any knowledge.
- Experts will know how to remove them, and sanitize the area.
Don’t take any pest or critter lightly; no matter how innocent they may seem. They can be carriers of quite a few harmful infections. Stay away from them, and protect your loved ones.
If you are unsure about how to get rid of squirrels or there are too many of them then it’s better to contact a professional pest control expert because they will know best how to handle them.
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