The Disease Risks of Having Norway Rats Around Your Home

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The protection that your home provides for your family also tends to invite wanted pest guests. The Norway rat, or common brown rat, in particular loves to move into attics and wall spaces. This species carries many diseases that can be harmful to humans. These rats spread disease both directly and indirectly as the walk over the floors, counter tops, and other surfaces of your home. Here are just some of the diseases that Norway rats carry and how they could affect you and your family.

Black Plague

Even though the bubonic or black plague is a disease we normally associate with the Middle Ages, it still exist today. Norway rats are one of the primary carriers of the disease because they carry the fleas that spread the plague. The plague is transferred by blood-to-blood contact through flea bites. These infected fleas can quickly travel throughout your home and bite anyone they encounter. The most common symptoms are dark-colored swellings in the groin, neck, and armpit areas that ooze puss. Necrotic decay of the fingertips is also a common symptom.


This disease in particular affects the entire body by causing headaches, muscle pains, fever, bleeding from the lungs, and meningitis as a secondary complication. The infected rat has to urinate in water or soil, then it must come in contact with broken skin, the eyes, the mouth, or nose to potentially infect a human. This is easier than you think when the Norway rats are infiltrating every part of your home.

Murine Typhus

This is another flea-borne disease that is usually spread by rats, but it requires a slightly different manner of infection than the plague. Murine typhus is transmitted in the droppings of the fleas, and accidentally rubbing the droppings into a cut or scrape is what allows it to enter the body. You may think you'd never rub flea droppings on yourself even by accident, but these tiny specks of waste can end up in your bed or other area where it has a good chance of making contact with any broken skin you might have.

Tick-borne Diseases

There are nearly a dozen different diseases that the ticks found on Norway rats can transmit to humans, and there are even new ones being discovered every few years. One of the most serious is Lyme disease. Deer ticks commonly infest Norway rats in high numbers, and they are also the primary carrier of this long-lasting and difficult-to-treat disease. Just a few of the other potential diseases you can get from ticks that jump onto you from rats in the home include the Powassan virus and tularemia.

Don't wait. If you think you have a Norway rat infestation, call a reputable pest control company, such as Alliance Pest Management, Inc.