Squirrels may seem cute and innocent when they are running around in your backyard, but if they infest your home they can pose a serious health risk to the human inhabitants. While it is less common, the diseases squirrels carry are quite serious and can be harmful to pets as well. Squirrels are the primary carriers of the following diseases.
Powassan Encephalitis (POW)
This is a tick born disease and it is fatal in 10 percent of cases according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many people who experience POW do not display any symptoms, but if symptoms are experienced, they generally include fever, headache, vomiting, confusion, weakness, loss of coordination, and seizures. The incubation period (time from bite to onset of symptoms) is about one week to one month. About half of POW survivors have permanent neurological problems including memory problems, muscle wasting, and recurrent headaches.
Also known as Colorado Tick Fever, Mountain Tick Fever, and American Tick Fever. The most common symptoms are headache, chills, fever, body aches, and feeling tired. Some patients have reported a body rash, vomiting, and sore throat. The incubation period is generally about one to 14 days. There are no medications or vaccines to treat Tick Fever, but life-threatening illness or death is rare.
This disease is transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. Squirrels that seem more friendly might actually be more likely to be rabid. The disease infects the central nervous system and without treatment results in death. Initial symptoms include headache, fever, and weakness. As the disease progresses, there are more specific symptoms including insomnia, anxiety, slight paralysis, hallucinations, increase in saliva, and difficulty swallowing. Once one experiences the onset of those symptoms, death usually results in a matter of days. If you are bitten by a squirrel, you should scrub and flush the wound immediately and then seek immediate attention from your doctor or emergency room.
In addition to these diseases, squirrels can carry other microorganisms and fleas. For your health (and the health of your pets if you have any) Attic Solutions employs trained professionals who can assist you by setting live traps and humanely releasing the squirrels in the wild. Call us at 847.464.1861 the moment you notice squirrels or squirrel damage.