RatMania! Rat Infestation and Asthma

How can Rats affect People with Asthma?

It is estimated that 20% of households include someone who is allergic to animals. Allergies to pet rats, dogs, cats and pests are common for many who are likely to have a great chance of exposure. Unfortunately, most inner-city residents are likely to be exposed to rats. And repeated exposure to rat allergens is likely to increase the risk of asthma and asthma morbidity.
Boy with Asthma breathing apparatus

Boy with Asthma breathing apparatus

It is a misconception that rat fur causes allergies. It is exposure to rat dander (dead skin cells), saliva, and urine that can cause rat allergies and can, over time, trigger asthma in people. When rats groom they spread the saliva on their skin and fur. Rats pick up urine on their feet and other body parts. These allergens become airborne when they dry and flake off. And these allergens can hang around on surfaces for many years.

Let’s Ponder Some Facts About Rats and Asthma in the United States

Adults with asthma is 8.2% Children with asthma is 9.5% In About 3.4% of 100,000, people will die of asthma this year. The numbers of people with asthma worldwide is difficult to come by. The WHO estimates that 235 Million people worldwide have asthma.

Where are Rats found Indoors?

Rats need shelter, food, and water to live. Rats can best be found where it is dark and damp. Rats are commonly found in basements, attics, and tunnels. Rats like to hide and forage under sinks, stoves, refrigerators and other mechanical equipment, cardboard boxes, and in walls.

Health Effects of Exposure to Rat Allergens

One study of eight inner-city sites found rat allergens to be very common in households. Sensitization to rat allergens is also very common. And because asthma is a serious disease, exposure to rat allergens can have a significant impact on asthma morbidity. Research suggests that exposure to rats increases the risk of asthma among inner-city dwellers. And a study in Baltimore suggests that 21% of the children in the study area were sensitized to rat allergen. The children sensitized with rat allergen had 50% more unscheduled doctor visits due to asthma. These children were also 6 times more likely to need hospitalization for asthma than children who were not exposed or sensitized!

Preventing Rat Induced Asthma

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  • Keep home and facility clean and dry.
  • Use an Integrated Pest Management program, like Green Pest Management, instead of chemicals to get rid of pests.
  • Do not leave food containers open. All food and consumables should be in plastic or glass containers.
  • Do not leave dirty dishes in any sink or room.
  • Do not leave pet food and water out overnight.
  • Remove garbage, food remains, and liquid spills around food preparation areas and trash cans every day. Sweep and mop floors when necessary.
  • Take trash out every day. Never let trash overflow.
  • Use trash cans that seal out pests and use trash bags that resist breakage.
  • Look for and service plumbing leaks and moisture problems.
  • Seal cracks around the foundation, windows and doors. Don’t forget to seal openings where pipes and electrical conduit enter the facility.
  • New York City Rat exiting from old construction

    New York City Rat exiting from old construction

  • Replace cardboard storage boxes with plastic containers.
  • Monitor for infestations with sticky or mechanical traps or baits. IPM and Green Pest Management techniques do not recommend the use of pellet or granular baits.
  • Use low-impact, green pesticides only after consulting your pest control expert. Green Pest Management is best around people who have asthma.
You can control your allergy symptoms and reduce the risk of asthma by wearing a face mask and disposable gloves in area with known infestations, such as storerooms. You should and shower and change your clothing to remove any allergens after being exposed to rat allergens.

Conclusion on Rat Infestations and Asthma

Rat allergens are prevalent in many inner-city buildings. Exposure to rat allergens contribute to an increase in asthma symptoms and asthma related morbidity. The exposure can be determined by demographics and household determination. Call today at 1-800-986-1006 for help with a rat infestation. You’re also welcome to complete the form below and a caring Hearts Pest Management representative will contact you shortly.
Call Now 1-800-986-1006 or complete the form below

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References: Gale Jurasek; “Rat Allergen and Asthma in the Inner City, Website”; Respiratory Reviews.com, Vol. 8, No. 10. http://www.respiratoryreviews.com/oct03/rr_oct03_rats.html Anonymous; “Asthma Fact Sheet: Pests” http://www.in.gov/isdh/reports/breatheasyville/triggers/pests.html Essence Harris, eHow Contributor; “Allergies to Rats” in “eHow”. http://www.ehow.com/about_6316351_allergies-rats.html Anonymous; “Rodents”, National Center for Healthy Housing. http://www.nchh.org/What-We-Do/Health-Hazards–Prevention–and-Solutions/Rodents.aspx The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol 113, Issue 6, Pages 1167-1171, June 2004 http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(04)00932-7/abstract (Scholarly article about mouse related allergy. My apply somewhat to rats)

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