Squirrels carry many diseases and bacteria’s, both on their actual bodies and in their feces and urine. Squirrels are experts at adapting to urban and suburban life, and nowadays we commonly see squirrels in and around homes, parks, neighborhoods, yards and properties with trash cans and dumpsters. These squirrels are carriers of diseases that can spread to people. When spread to people, these diseases are referred to as zoonosis. Pets should additionally be protected from squirrels; if a Squirrel scratches or bites you or your pets, they can pass these diseases on to you and your family.
Should you be concerned about squirrels? Absolutely, yes. You need to make sure you stay protected. What are the common concerns that we deal with regarding squirrels and the bacteria and diseases affiliated with squirrels in the attic? Number one is rabies. Rabies a disease caused by a virus and is almost always fatal. It spreads through a bite and infects the animal (or human). Additionally rabies is also present in rat saliva. If you have an open wound and a rabid squirrel spits on you, it can pass the rabies virus on to you. In a study from the CDC, rodents and squirrels are the most frequently reported animal species with rabies in the US, specifically the Eastern and Southern Eastern parts of the country. If you think you've been exposed to squirrel rabies, this means that you've either been bit and scratched or spat on by a squirrel. You need to make sure you report this rat exposure to your local CDC office immediately. Bites and scratches should be assessed by your healthcare provider and reported to the Public Healthcare system.
Another concern about squirrels is squirrel roundworm. Many squirrels carry around one called Viola Securus. Infected squirrels pass it on in eggs in feces; other animals and other people can be infected with squirrel roundworm by accidentally swallowing or ingesting these very small eggs from the roundworm in either the soil or the water, or if you had a squirrel infestation in your attic. If you have air ducts open in your attic and there was roundworm eggs, they will become airborne can get into the vents and then you can breathe them at night. This is why you need to pay close attention if you have a squirrel infestation in your attic. Squirrel roundworm can be fatal if ingested. After the eggs are swallowed they hatch into larvae and move through different parts of the body and can cause serious illness. Within weeks symptoms may include tiredness, lack of coordination, loss of muscle control, blindness and even a coma. Although squirrel roundworm infections are rare, if encountered they can be under-diagnosed. If you suspect that you have swallowed squirrel roundworm eggs or even been in contact with squirrel poop you should seek health care immediately. Early treatment may help prevent a serious infection and even disease.
Another common concern when dealing with squirrels in the attic and squirrel diseases is leptospirosis. What cirrhosis is is a disease that is normally found in squirrel poop, squirrel urine and any of the contamination. From a squirrel infestation in the attic, cirrhosis is a disease caused by leptospira bacteria. This bacteria is carried in the urine of squirrels. If squirrels are in the attic they are generally going to pee in the attic. Leptospirosis can affect people and animals if it gets onto the skin, inhaled by the nose the mouth or throat, or even swallowed, dogs are especially at risk and can die from this disease. Common concerns and symptoms of leptospirosis from squirrel urine is flu-like symptoms, severe headaches, muscle aches, pain high fevers and in some very serious cases of a squirrel in the attic the bacteria can cause serious liver and even kidney problems. If you feel that you may have the symptoms of leptospirosis you need to contact your CDC immediately and seek medical attention.
With all of this being said, you need to make sure that you prevent diseases from a squirrel in the attic. What I normally tell my customers if they're dealing with squirrels in the attic and squirrels out around the property is don't feed them. Don't put food out for them. Make sure you lock the trash cans or take the bird feeder down at night before the squirrels can eat the trash and get into everything. If you have pets bring the pet food inside; if you leave the pet food outside squirrels are attracted to the pet food and they think that you are inviting them to your house. If you feed the squirrels and provide food for them you will encounter squirrel poop diseases, so eliminate the factors that attract the squirrels to your home. They're not going to want to be there plain and simple.
I strongly recommend giving my team at Centurian Wildlife a call. My name is Brendan Mangnitz and I'll be more than happy to go over any concerns of bacterial diseases or viruses that rat infestations can cause. If you need any more information you can always visit my How To Remove squirrels guide for more rat facts.