What Diseases Can Squirrels Pass to Humans?
Squirrels, like any wild animal, are subject to a wide variety of parasites and diseases. Some of these, such as squirrel pox, affect the pests’ appearance by causing tumors or hair loss but cannot be spread to humans. However, others may infect people who have contact with squirrels, their carcasses, or the pests’ waste, fur, and nesting materials. Squirrel diseases that humans can catch include:
- Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases
Common Squirrel Diseases
Some of the most frequently reported squirrel-borne illnesses are actually transmitted secondhand through the pests’ parasites. Ticks that feed on infected squirrels then bite humans, passing on viruses and bacteria. Colorado tick fever, relapsing fever, plague, and typhus can all be spread to humans this way, though tick-borne Lyme disease is most common. This illness causes fever, rash, facial paralysis, and arthritis.
Getting salmonellosis from squirrel droppings is another relatively common health issue. When the pests make their nests in attics, close proximity to waste creates more opportunities for illness-causing Salmonella bacteria to infect residents. Inquisitive children and pets are most at risk for this flu-like squirrel disease, which is contracted through ingesting the pests’ feces.
Rare Squirrel Diseases
While almost any mammal can be a host for the rabies virus, it is especially rare in small animals like squirrels. Rabies is most frequently transmitted through the bites of rabid wildlife, and squirrels rarely survive an attack long enough to pass on the virus.
Bites from squirrels are not common, though any wild animal may defend itself when cornered or handled. In this way, the pests can infect humans with tularemia and leptospirosis.
These squirrel diseases may also be transmitted through:
- Contaminated water
Symptoms vary, though the onset of both conditions is signaled by a high fever.
How To Avoid Squirrel Maladies
The best way to avoid catching a squirrel disease is simply to give the pests plenty of space. Do not approach them if they are discovered nesting in attics or spotted on lawns. Many removal methods, such as trapping, require close contact with live or dead squirrels, and therefore pose health risks. Contact the wildlife removal experts at Western Pest Services for safe solutions to squirrel problems.