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Do rats carry rabies?

There are a lot of things about rats that make them unappealing to human beings. It starts with the fact that these are very messy animals that can do some real damage to your property. Once inside your walls they will not add wood and wiring, and can cause short in your electricity which can even lead to a fire.

In your kitchen, they want to get into your food, making a snack out of the things you would like to eat. Along the way they leave their waste, and the parasites and diseases that they carry can get into your food and along your kitchen counter and cabinets. This is a serious health risk for you.

It is the diseases and pathogens that rats carry that is the biggest concern for many people out there. Rats have long been the source of plagues that have destroyed large populations across Europe and Asia. Bubonic plague, a disease that is carried by fleas who were living on rats, killed nearly 20 million people in Europe a couple of centuries ago, and is one of the reasons why people have become so fearful of having rats around.

This is not as much of an issue today, as bubonic plague has not reached epidemic proportions in over a century anywhere on the earth, but there still are diseases that rats do carry. This includes such things as leptospirosis, rat bite fever, and salmonellosis, all of which are diseases that can be passed from a rat through their feces or coming in contact with the rat and them scratching or biting you. None of these illnesses are fatal for those who are already healthy, but they can make you quite sick for an extended period of time.

What illness that many believe that rats carry is the rabies virus. Because so many other kinds of rodents, including squirrels, raccoons, and possums, carry this illness, it seems only natural that rats would also carry this disease. So, do rats carry rabies?

The answer is a little more complicated than you may have thought. It is true that there have been cases where rats have carried the virus in their body. However, the number of rats that are infected with this virus is actually quite small. In fact, the likelihood of you being bitten by a rat and contracting the rabies virus is so small that the Department of Public Health does not even recommend receiving the rabies shot should you be bitten by one of these animals.

This is in stark contrast to their recommendation should you be bitten by a raccoon. Because it is likely that at least 20% of all wild raccoons carry this disease, they strongly recommend that you receive the rabies vaccine shots should you be bitten. However, in rats the number is less than one-tenth of one percent that a rat is likely to have the rabies virus. Even if they do, the likelihood of you contracting it and becoming infected is even smaller. Read more: Rat Control, Get Rats Out of the Attic, Rat Trapping, Rats in the Ceiling, Rat Feces.

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