Known Diseases Carried by NY Pests

By Pestech Pest Solutions

Known Diseases Carried by NY Pests

Having pests in your home is annoying, but pest infestations can also cause problems beyond annoyance. Some pests are known to carry diseases that can spread to humans, so promptly managing your pest problem is essential to your health. In this guide, we’ll discuss some common NY pest diseases, what signs to look out for and how to prevent them.

Curious about one pest in particular? Jump to that section:

Do Rodents, Such as Mice and Rats, Carry Diseases?

Rodents, such as mice and rats, are some of the most common NY pests, especially during the winter. These rodents can damage your house, get into your food and make you feel uncomfortable in your home- they may also carry diseases.

In fact, worldwide, mice and rats can spread more than 35 diseases.

In addition to conditions they can spread directly to humans, rodents can also spread diseases to people indirectly through ticks, fleas and other critters.

Mice & Rats Diseases

The diseases that rats and mice can spread directly to humans include: leptospirosis, rat-bite fever, hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM), salmonellosis, lassa fever and south American arenaviruses.

  • Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, or HPS, is spread by deer mice, white-footed mice, cotton rats and rice rats. This relatively rare disease is caused by a virus and can spread by direct contact with rats or mice, their droppings or their urine, as well as breathing in dust that’s been contaminated with rodent droppings or urine. You could also get the disease from a bite from a rat or mouse, although this a rare occurrence. Some early symptoms of HPS include fever, fatigue and muscle aches and may also include dizziness, chills, headaches and abdominal problems. After four to 10 days, the late-phase symptoms of the disease start to appear, which include coughing and shortness of breath. The mortality rate for HPS is about 38 percent.
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM) is a viral infectious disease spread by the house mouse. An estimated five percent of house mice in the United States carry the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). Like HPS, lymphocytic choriomeningitis is spread through direct contact with rodents, their urine or their droppings, contact with dust contaminated with droppings or urine or bite wounds. The most common symptom is fever, but many people who get infected do not have any symptoms. LCM can also cause neurological disease, but is very rarely fatal.
  • Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease spread by various rodents as well as other animals. You can contract the disease by eating food, drinking liquids or touching soil or water that has been contaminated with urine from an infected rodent. The diseases can cause many different symptoms in humans, which are often mistaken as being caused by other diseases. Common symptoms include fever, chills, headache, vomiting, red eyes and a rash. However, some infected people may have no symptoms at all. If left untreated, it can lead to respiratory distress, liver failure, kidney damage, meningitis and can even be fatal.

Do Cockroaches Carry Diseases?

Cockroaches Eat Anything

Cockroaches are frequently found in homes, offices and other buildings. In addition to creeping people out, they can contribute to the spread of diseases.

Cockroaches will eat almost anything from old food to fecal matter, and because of this, they often ingest and spread bacteria.

They can carry a range of bacteria and viruses that can cause various illnesses, including salmonellosis, poliomyelitis, leprosy, entamoeba histolytica, cholera, typhoid fever and dysentery. In addition, cockroaches can also cause allergic reactions and trigger asthma symptoms.

Salmonellosis is a symptomatic infection caused by salmonella bacteria that people typically get by eating contaminated water and food, most often raw or undercooked meat or eggs. If a cockroach is exposed to salmonella and then touches food that someone later eats, that person could become infected with salmonella. People with salmonellosis do not usually have any symptoms, but for those that do, the symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. Typically, healthy people recover from salmonellosis in a few days without treatment.

Only a few cases of cholera are reported in the United States each year, but the disease is more common in other parts of the world. People get cholera by eating food or drinking water that’s been contaminated with vibrio cholerae bacterium through exposure to feces. The symptoms of cholera include diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps, and symptoms can range from none at all to minimal to severe. In severe, dehydration and shock can occur. Cholera is highly treatable, but if someone with severe symptoms doesn’t get treatment, the disease could be fatal. It’s unlikely that you’ll get cholera from a cockroach, but one of these insects could potentially pick up the bacterium and then get into food or water.

Do Flies Carry Diseases?

Do Flies Carry Disease

Flies, such as houseflies and fruit flies, are very common pests in New York and are typically just considered a nuisance. However, they are also believed to be able to spread at least 65 diseases to people. Like cockroaches, flies will feed on everything from human food to garbage to feces. Whenever they land, they regurgitate and excrete, which can mechanically transmit organisms they picked up. The diseases that flies can potentially spread to humans include tuberculosis, yaws, poliomyelitis, cholera, dysentery, leprosy, tularemia, anthrax, trachoma, epidemic keratoconjunctivitis and typhoid fever.

The organisms that flies can transmit to humans include those that cause the various forms of dysentery, including shigellosis and amebiasis. About 600 cases of each of these diseases are reported in New York each year. People who get shigellosis may have diarrhea and fever but also may not have any symptoms. Most people who get amebiases don’t have any symptoms, but those who do may have nausea, diarrhea, occasional fever, stomach tenderness and weight loss. Most of the time, people who have shigellosis recover on their own, but some may need fluids to prevent dehydration or be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics are also used to treat amebiasis.

Flies may also transmit the organisms that cause epidemic keratoconjunctivitis, a form of what is commonly called pink eye, to humans. EKC starts out with flu-like symptoms, including fever and tiredness. Then, the ocular symptoms such as a red eye, swollen eyelid, eye irritation, light sensitivity and excessive tearing. EKC typically lasts for two to three weeks, and people with EKC are contagious for about 10 to 14 days.

Do Ticks Carry Diseases?

There are 30 species of ticks that live in New York State. Ten of those species typically bite humans, and four of them can transmit diseases. Globally, the diseases that ticks can transmit include anaplasmosis, lyme disease, bourbon virus, babesiosis Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), 364D rickettsiosis, tickborne relapsing fever (TBRF), tularemia, Colorado tick fever, human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA), Heartland virus, rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis, Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), human monocytic ehrlichiosis and Powassan disease.

Tick Species in NY

The four NY species that can transmit diseases to humans are the deer tick, the lone star tick, the American dog tick and the woodchuck tick.

  • The deer tick can transmit Lyme disease, HGA, Babesiosis and Powassan virus.
  • The lone star tick can cause human monocytic ehrlichiosis (HME).
  • The American dog tick can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
  • The woodchuck tick can cause Powassan virus.

Lyme disease is the most common tick-spread disease in New York. It is spread through the bite of a tick that has been infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi or Borrelia mayonii. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache and a bull’s eye-shaped rash. Lyme disease can usually be successfully treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, the infection may spread to the nervous system, joints and heart. Later symptoms of Lyme disease include additional rashes, arthritis, facial palsy, heart palpitations and nerve pain.

Symptoms of ehrlichiosis, which is transmitted by the bite of an infected lone star tick, include fever, chills, muscle aches, headache and upset stomach. About one in three people get a rash. It can be treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, more serious symptoms can occur, and the disease can even be fatal.

Early symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) include fever, rash, nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle pain and lack of appetite. Some patients may have permanent damage such as hearing loss, mental disability, paralysis and amputation of arms, fingers, legs or toes due to damage to blood vessels. If not treated with the correct antibiotics, RMSF can be fatal.

Powassan virus is relatively rare but can be serious. Many people who have been infected with Powassan virus don’t have any symptoms. For those that do have symptoms, they include fever, vomiting, weakness and headache. Severe cases of Powassan virus can cause infection of the brain or the spinal cord and membranes around the brain. Symptoms of severe cases include seizures, confusion, difficulty speaking and loss of coordination. There is no medication to treat an infection with Powassan virus. Approximately one in 10 people with severe Powassan virus die, and approximately half of those who survive have long-term health issues.

Do Fleas Carry Diseases?

Fleas are known to carry various organisms that can cause diseases in humans and animals, including pets. They also play a role in the spread of certain diseases that they don’t transmit directly to humans. Some of the diseases associated with fleas include murine typhus, bubonic plague, sylvatic plague, tularemia and cat scratch fever. Some people and pets are also allergic to flea bites, which may lead to dermatitis, itching and hair loss.

Cat scratch fever is caused by Bartonella henselae bacteria. Cats, especially young cats and kittens, can become infected with this bacteria due to contact with infected flea droppings, and about 40 percent of cats carry the bacteria at some point during their lives. The bacteria rarely cause disease in cats, but infected cats can spread it to their owners, who may then become sick. Cats can spread the bacteria through a lick, bite or scratch. The infected area may become red and swollen, and raised, round lesions may appear. People with cat scratch disease may also experience a fever, exhaustion, headache and reduced appetite. The lymph nodes may also become swollen, painful or tender. Most people recover from cat scratch fever, but some people, especially those with weakened immune systems, can become seriously ill. Rarely, serious complications can also occur.

Fleas Infecting Pets

Some fleas can also carry the Yersinia pestis bacteria, which can cause plague in humans who are bitten by an infected flea. Dogs and cats who become infected with the diseases can also spread it to their owners. The disease typically comes from fleas that have fed on an infected wild animal. There are several types of plague, including bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic.

  • Symptoms of bubonic plague include fever, chills, headache, weakness and swollen or painful lymph nodes.
  • Symptoms of septicemic plague can include fever, chills, shock, abdominal pain, weakness and bleeding into the skin or other organs. It can cause skin and other tissue to turn black and die.
  • Pneumonic plague also causes fever, weakness and headache and is characterized by rapidly developing pneumonia.

Plague is well known for killing millions of people in the Middle Ages, but today, it is rare and can be treated with antibiotics. The disease, however, does still occur and can lead to serious complications or be fatal.

Do Mosquitoes Carry Diseases?

It’s well known that mosquitoes can spread diseases. Most species of mosquitoes don’t spread diseases, but some do — these diseases can include West Nile virus (WNV), malaria, zika virus, dengue fever, yellow fever, chikungunya and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).

EEE is a very rare but serious disease that can be transmitted through a mosquito bite. Around five to 10 cases of EEE are reported in the United States each year, and five cases have been reported in New York State since 1971, all five of which died.

WNV was first found in New York State in 1999, and since 2000, 490 humans cases and 37 deaths have been reported across the state.

Usually, people infected with EEE or WNV don’t develop any symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they usually start to appear three to 15 days after the mosquito bite occurred. The symptoms of EEE and WNV are similar. In mild cases, patients may develop fever, body aches, headache and sometimes a rash or swollen lymph nodes. People with severe cases typically have a sudden onset of symptoms that include high fever, muscle weakness, headache, neck stiffness, altered mental status, convulsions, tremors, paralysis and inflammation of the brain or the spinal cord and membranes around the brain.

There aren’t currently any treatments specific to EEE or WNV, and patients are treated for symptoms. Those with mild cases of these diseases usually recover fully. Severe cases of EEE are more serious than those of WNV, but both require medical treatment. About one-third of those with EEE die, and survivors may have brain damage. About one in every 150 cases of WNV is severe, and almost all patients make a complete recovery.

Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to prevent EEE, WNV and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. Remove standing water from your property to discourage mosquito breeding, make sure all windows and doors in your home have screens that aren’t ripped and wear protective clothing and insect repellant if going outside when mosquitoes are active. In New York City, they are active from April through October.

Do Bats Carry Diseases?

Bats Source of COVID

Bats may have a unique immune system that enables them to host numerous viruses without becoming sick. They are known or suspected to carry various viruses, including the Marburg, Hendra, Nipah and rabies viruses and may also carry the Ebola virus. Bats can also spread bacterial diseases such as leptospirosis and salmonellosis. Bats have been linked to the SARS and MERS epidemics and may be the source of the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus spreading from China.

Rabies is one of the best-known viruses that bats can spread. All mammals can get rabies, but in the United States, 70 percent of human rabies infections that occurred in the United States from 1960 to 2018 was due to bats. Human rabies infections in the United States are relatively rare, with only 125 cases reported during that period. Rabies can be treated if caught early, and most fatalities occur in people who did not seek medical attention, at least until the disease had progressed beyond the incubation period. Many of the cases in which people didn’t seek medical attention involve bats. Because bat bites can be so small, people may not realize they’ve been bitten.

The time between when a bite occurs and symptoms begin to occur can be weeks or even months. This period is the incubation period. Early symptoms of rabies are similar to those of the flu and include fever, headache and feelings of weakness and discomfort. Other possible symptoms include a sensation of prickling, itching or general discomfort near the site of the bite. A few days after these sensations begin, cerebral disfunction, confusion, agitation and anxiety may occur. As the disease continues to progress, symptoms may include delirium, hallucinations, abnormal behavior, insomnia and hydrophobia. Once clinical signs appear, rabies is almost always fatal, so it’s important to seek treatment right away if you believe you may have been bitten by an infected animal or otherwise come into contact with the rabies virus.

Do Birds Carry Diseases?

Birds, such as pigeons, are another critter that can spread diseases to humans. They can carry various types of bacteria and can contribute to the spread of diseases such as cryptococcosis, histoplasmosis, psittacosis, candidiasis, St. Louis encephalitis, salmonellosis and E.coli.

Many of these diseases can spread through direct or indirect contact with bird droppings. Birds can also carry various ectoparasites, such as bed bugs and chicken mites.

Cryptococcosis is caused by infection by the cryptococcus neoformans fungus, which can be found in bird droppings and other places, such as soil and decaying wood. Most people who are exposed to the fungus, don’t get sick from it, and infections occur most often in people who have weakened immune systems. The fungus usually infects either the lungs or central nervous system, although it can also infect other parts of the body. Infection of the lungs typically causes symptoms such as cough, chest pain, shortness of breath and fever. Infection of the central nervous system typically causes systems such as headache, neck pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, confusion and changes in behavior.

Histoplasmosis is another fungal disease that people can get from exposure to bird droppings. Typically, histoplasmosis doesn’t require treatment, but it can have a more serious effect on people with weakened immune systems. Histoplasmosis is a lung infection that may spread to other parts of the body. Most people that get infected don’t have any symptoms. For those who do have symptoms in mild cases, symptoms may include fever, chest pain, dry cough, joint pain and red bumps on lower legs. In more severe cases, symptoms may include shortness of breath, excessive sweating and coughing up blood. Widespread histoplasmosis results in inflammation and irritation and can cause symptoms such as high fever, chest pain, headaches and a stiff neck.

Protect Your Home or Business With Pestech

At Pestech Pest Solutions, we can help control and prevent infestations of all of the pests listed above, as well as others, including spiders, bed bugs and termites. We offer various pest management programs, including our integrated pest management, pest exclusion, green pest control and healthy home programs. When you work with us, a technician will thoroughly inspect your home or business and treat for pests as required. We also offer a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee that we will solve your pest issue. If we don’t succeed in the first visit, we will continue working with you at no additional charge until we solve the problem.

To learn more about how we can help you protect your home or business from pests and the diseases they may carry, contact us today.