Leptospirosis is a bacterium that can be shed in the urine of an infected animal. Many animals have leptospirosis in them, for instance, raccoons, mice, and rats, but do squirrels carry Leptospirosis?
Yes, squirrels carry Leptospirosis and can be detected by taking a sample of all the wet spots or puddles these animals have just urinated in. If you suspect Leptospirosis in your animal, the fastest way to detect it is by taking a urine sample.
In this article, we will read about the squirrels carrying bacteria-Leptospirosis in them, their symptoms, and the treatment options. This way, you can know how to cure leptospirosis if your squirrel gets infected with bacteria.
What Infections Can You Get From Squirrels?
Leptospirosis or Weil’s disease is a zoonotic disease- that can be transferred from the infected animals to humans. It is caused by spiral-shaped- bacteria of the genus Leptospira. These micro-organisms require moisture, and they can move due to their spiral shape.
Since this disease is zoonotic, humans can get this too. That is why you must be able to recognize all the symptoms and signs of this disease so that you can identify them in a timely manner and should be able to do something about it.
Leptospirosis is commonly prevalent in rodents like squirrels.
However, Leptospirosis is not the only infection that can be found in squirrels. The plague, ringworms, typhus, and tularemia can also be transferred to humans through squirrels.
Symptoms Of Leptospirosis In Squirrels
The clinical signs of leptospirosis are a variety in animals. This includes anorexia, losing weight, fever, anemia, blood in urine, muscle weakness, lung congestion, jaundice, and abnormal milk production in females.
The severe clinical signs and symptoms include liver or kidney damage and reproductive tract dysfunction. The transmission of this particular disease Leptospirosis can also be transmitted if you come in contact with a contaminated environment or urine.
These bacteria can reproduce in the kidneys and are shed in the fecal matter. However, one drawback based on symptoms is that since the clinical signs are in a wide range, you can easily mistake it for another disease. Hence, to be 100% sure, you need to get the sample or animal tested.
Do All Squirrels Carry Leptospirosis?
No, not all squirrels carry leptospirosis. This disease may prevail, but it is not that common among squirrels. However, you can best look out for the signs and symptoms.
It is also advised that you do not come in contact with the squirrels if you have a fresh wound. Exposing yourself will end up in the transmission of bacteria into your body as well. That is why you must remain at a distance and handle squirrels carefully.
Moreover, it is always better to be sure rather than speculate about leptospirosis. You can always get a quick sample and have it tested at the lab. This way, all your doubts will be cleared once the medical reports come.
What Diseases Can Squirrels Give Humans?
There are a lot of diseases that squirrels can transfer to humans. These include Tularemia, Rabies, Lyme disease, Salmonellosis, and Leptospirosis. All this can affect humans, and they may develop a severe form of the disease.
That is why one should take good care of their pet squirrels, vaccinate them, and stay away from the wild ones. It is the wild ones that carry the most number of infections and diseases in them.
How Do You Treat An Infected Squirrel?
Since a bacterium causes the disease, it can be treated by using antibiotics. If the squirrels are treated in their early stages, their chances of recovery are more. Moreover, timely medication can help reduce organ damage in animals.
The most common antibiotics used are those belonging to the penicillin group. The antibiotics involved are chloramphenicol, azithromycin, cephalosporin, and doxycycline. These have been studied widely in clinical trials and have been approved for treatment.
Before administering antibiotics to squirrels, you must first take them to a veterinary doctor and ensure that a dose is prescribed to your animal. It is best if the doctor guides you on how to give the medication.
Other than antibiotics, other treatment options include hydration therapy and dialysis in the squirrels. This happens when the animal is suspected of suffering organ damage, and you have to save them from permanent damage.
How Do You Clean Squirrel Urine?
Since the origin of leptospirosis can be traced back to the urine sample of a squirrel, you need to know what to do with a squirrel’s urine. This is your primary concern if you have a squirrel as your pet animal.
The droppings and urine of the squirrel can be cleaned with a mixture of bleach and water. You must spray the mixture on top of the urine and let it soak for 10 to 15 minutes.
This will kill all the bacteria in the urine. The recommended ratio is 1:10 of bleach and water, respectively. You can also opt for a commercial disinfectant.
It would be best if you took extra care not to contact the urine directly. For this purpose, you should always have your gloves on and dispose of them once you are done cleaning. There are chances that some bacteria might still survive if you leave them as is.
The squirrels are hosts for harmful bacteria like leptospira and it is shed in their urine. For people who have squirrels as their pets or are exposed to wild ones, you should beware of this particular disease.
This article has been written to inform you about the symptoms you need to look for in a squirrel and how they must be tested. Moreover, what is the treatment plan if your squirrel has leptospirosis?
This disease is transmissible; you should also take care so as to not get it. Not all squirrels carry Leptospirosis but the ones that do, are able to transmit it to humans easily. Extra caution should be observed while handling and taking care of squirrels.
Seroprevalence of Leptospira Among Selected Mammals on a Wildlife Management Area in Louisiana, USA – Journal of wildlife diseases
Cilia G, Bertelloni F, Albini S, Fratini F. Insight into the Epidemiology of Leptospirosis: A Review of Leptospira Isolations from “Unconventional” Hosts. Animals. 2021