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More than a Nuisance; Three Dangerous Diseases spread by Rats

Diseases spread by rats or the common brown rats in Britain can become a very serious pest problem quickly.  They represent a potential threat to public and animal health due to the range of diseases they can transmit.

Transmission to humans usually occurs through exposure to infected animal urine, faeces, and/ or saliva.

Here at Avon Pest Control, we want you to be informed, prepared, and stay safe.

A Top Three of Common Diseases spread by Brown Rats

Below are 3, amongst many, of the diseases rats can carry and transmit to humans.

We answer FAQ’s such as:

  • What are common diseases spread by rats?
  • How are these diseases transferred to humans?
  • We also answer and discuss common signs and symptoms of brown rat diseases.

Three Common British Rat Diseases Explained

  • Weil’s Disease (Leptospirosis) – a bacterial infection harboured in the kidneys which can result from exposure to infected rat urine.  In around 10% of Leptospirosis cases, the disease can progress to Weil’s disease, which is more serious.Weil’s disease is one of the most common worldwide Zoonosis; a disease which is spread from non-human animals to humans.According to the Health Protection Agency there were 38 indigenous laboratory-confirmed cases in England and Wales in 2009.

    If you suspect you have rats at your property and are exhibiting the following symptoms,
    Seek Medical Attention:

    • high temperature
    • chills
    • headache
    • feeling/ being sick
    • red eyes
    • appetite loss
    • aching muscles/ joints

In severe cases, Weil’s disease can lead to organ failure and bleeding.


Jaundice, also known as Icterus, is a yellowish or greenish pigmentation of the skin and whites of the eyes due to high Bilirubin levels.

Seek Urgent Medical attention if you experience:

      • chest pain
      • jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes)
      • swollen feet, ankles, or hands
      • shortness of breath
      • coughing up blood


  • Salmonella (Salmonellosis) a bacterial disease which can be spread by eating or drinking food or water contaminated by infected rat faeces.

    Prevention of Salmonella from the farm to table infographic

    Symptoms usually present within 8-72 hours and include:

    • diarrhoea
    • fever
    • chills
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • abdominal cramps
    • headache
    • blood in the stool

Diseases spread by Rats - Infographic Symptoms of Leptospirosis - People Having Diarrhea, Headache, Vomiting, Fever and Muscle Pain

  • Rat-bite Fever – a bacterial disease which can be caused by a scratch or bite from an infected rat, or consumption of food or drink contaminated by infected rat faeces, urine and mucous secretions from the mouth, eyes and nose.In June 2019, this disease came to public attention after a 34-year-old woman died from rat-bite fever after being bitten on the finger by a rat and not seeking treatment.Rat-bite fever is caused by two different bacteria (Streptobacillus Moniliforis or Spirillum Minus), and symptoms can present differently for each type.

    Streptobacillary symptoms include:

    • fever
    • headache
    • vomiting
    • join pain/ swelling
    • muscle pain
    • rash

Spirillary symptoms include:

    • fever
    • swelling at the bite wound location (if present) which may form an ulcer
    • swollen lymph nodes
    • rash
Diseases spread by Rats - Contact Avon Pest Control today we can help!

Call Avon Pest Control on 01926 632929 for professional advice or help!

Here at Avon Pest Control, we have expert knowledge of the biology and behaviour of rats, as well as safety issues and legal legislation, so you can rest assured your rat problem will be sorted responsibly, effectively, and safely.

If you suspect rats have taken up occupancy in your home, contact Avon Pest Control for removal and treatment pricing.


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