Which Rodent-Borne Diseases Are Known To Occur In The Northeast, And How Are Modern Homes Built To Exclude Rodent Pests From Interior Living Spaces?
Rodents are known for carrying and transmitting several diseases including salmonellosis, leptospirosis, murine typhus, hantavirus, tularemia, and even plague. With the exception of plague and murine typhus, all of these diseases can be spread by rodents in New York state. Although plague is largely regarded as a bygone European scourge, an average of 10 people contract the disease annually in the western US. Plague can be transmitted to humans via the bite of an infected flea or by making direct contact with an infected rodent. Murine typhus is transmitted via bites from infected fleas, and extremely rare outbreaks have been known to occur in the southern and western US. While humans rarely contract disease from rodents in the US, experts worry that continued urbanization into wild rodent habitats will make residential populations vulnerable to rodent-borne disease outbreaks.
Modern residential building codes require all new homes to be built with pest-resistant features, such as elevated subflooring, minimal entry points on exterior walls, inaccessible pipes and wiring, and closed gaps around utility penetrations. Since Norway rats are ground-nesting rodents that cannot climb well, modern rodent-resistant construction practices are relatively effective at excluding Norway rats from interior living spaces. However, the far less prevalent roof rat pest species establishes nests and seeks out food sources within trees and atop roofs well above the ground surface where they easily enter homes through attic vents, chimneys, and sewer vents. Placing a mesh screen barrier over these entry points will prevent roof rat invasions.
Due to their small size and ability to squeeze through openings as small as a nickel, house mice can gain access into homes without being hindered by pest-resistant structural features. In fact, it is not uncommon for house mice to establish infestations within homes that are under construction, and they are particularly fond of establishing harborages within ceilings voids, which should not be surprising to homeowners who have encountered mouse droppings in light fixtures.
Have you ever heard rodents moving about within your ceilings?