Thursday, August 28, 2008

rat diseases that transmit to humans

photo by me - Georgetown 2007

hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (hps): is a deadly disease transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings or saliva.  humans can contract the disease when they breathe in  aerosolized virus.  hps was 1st recognized in the united states in 1993.  although rare, hps is potentially deadly.  rodent control in and around the home remains the primary strategy for preventing hantavirus infection.

murine typhus: occurs worldwide and is transmitted to humans by rat fleas.  flea-infested rats can be found throughout the year in humid tropical environments, but in temperate regions are most common during the warmer summer months. 

rat-bite fever (rbf): a systemic bacterial illness caused by streptobacillus moniliformis that can be acquired through the bite or scratch of a rodent of the ingestion of food or water contaminated with rat feces.

salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium: causes a typhoid-like disease in mice.  in humans it is not normally fatal.  the disease is characterized by diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and nausea and generally lasts up to 7 days.  unfortunately in immunocompromized people, that includes the elderly, young or people with depressed immune systems, salmonella infections are often fatal if not treated with antibiotics.

leptospirosis: (fyi this is very common in our area): is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals.  it is caused by the bacteria of the genus leptospira.  in humans this causes a wide range of symptoms and some infected persons have no symptoms at all.  symptoms can include a high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches and vomiting and may include jaundice, red eyes abdominal pain, diarrhea or a rash.  if not treated the patient could develop kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord) liver failure and respiratory distress.  in rare cases death occurs.

eosinophilic meningitis: is an infection of the brain occurring in associateion with an increase in teh number of eosinophils, white blood cells that are associated with worms that penetrate into the body.  the organism most commonly causing eosinophilic meningitis is a rat lung worm called angiostrongylus cantonensis.

this info is from the center for disease control and prevention

they're ba'ack

here they come.  starting or returning.

the usual mix is as such...

affluent brats here thanks to mom/dad donating a building or a wing.
hyper-intelligent scholarship kids.
culture shocked international students.
the jocks.
average kids working 2 jobs to pay for school.

what is the common denominator here?  the trail of litter.  half eaten food, cigarette smoke and cigarette butts, beer cans, bottles and vomit, used condoms and yes, unclaimed panties in their wake.

when they leave for the summer or forever there is a permanent stain on my neighborhood.  the foul and increasingly large (size and number) community of rats are an added bonus as well.

the questions in my mind and the minds of my neighbors are:

do their parents have any clue?  do the students themselves find this remotely disgusting? did they live like this before arriving here?  and how the hell does one lose one's panties?  wait don't answer that last one.