Dangerous Diseases from Squirrels in the Home
Most people do not encourage squirrels to nest or live in their home, and for good reason. Squirrels are wild animals that thrive in the wilderness, not in the eaves of an attic. When confronted by humans in an unnatural environment, squirrels will panic and sometimes attack if they feel threatened. Some people aren’t too concerned about an animal smaller than a football attacking, but you may want to reconsider. Squirrels can be more dangerous than you think.
Whenever dealing with a wild animal, you run the risk of getting bitten or scratched. Avoid animals from breaching your home by protecting and blocking any means of entry. You might not think these physical wounds from the pesky rodents are serious enough to need to go to the hospital; however, there may be underlying threats after a squirrel encounter that may warrant a trip to the doctor. Be careful of these diseases that can be transmitted from squirrels to humans:
This is transmitted when animal urine comes into contact with open wounds (i.e. scratches, bites). Initial symptoms range from headaches and rashes to fever and vomiting. If left untreated, it can lead to kidney failure or meningitis. Treatment includes using antibiotics.
A squirrel doesn't have to bite you to expose you to diseases. Squirrels are often hosts ticks that can carry bacteria. Typical symptoms include fatigue, headaches, and skin rash. If left untreated, Lyme disease can result in facial palsy, arthritis, and heart palpitations, among other severe symptoms. If caught early, antibiotics can be used to treat the disease.
This infection is caused by Salmonella bacteria, which can be found in animal feces. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and intestinal cramps. Antibiotics are sometimes given but is not always necessary. Treatment mostly involves hydration and replenishing electrolytes.
Tularemia can be transmitted from handling sick or dead animals. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, skin ulcers, fever, swollen lymph glands, and headaches. Antibiotics are used to treat tularemia, and most patients recover.
It is very rare for a squirrel to transmit rabies to a human, but it is worth mentioning due to the dangers of being exposed. If bitten by a rabid animal, initial symptoms include fever, headaches, and weakness. If left untreated, symptoms can progress to insomnia, confusion, paralysis, and eventually death. Washing out a scratch or bite wound is the first step to treatment; however, it is imperative to see a doctor quickly if you suspect you have been exposed to the rabies virus.
While most of these diseases are not common, being informed is the first step towards safe handling of squirrels or other wild animals you may find in your home. To keep them out initially, protect your home, electrical lines, and utility poles from squirrels with our Line Guard and Pole Guard. Contact us to learn more and find a solution to keeping critters at bay.
- John Sims