Wildlife-Related Health Risks and Safety Concerns

Wildlife-Related Health Risks and Safety Concerns

Wildlife health risks should be common knowledge. Unfortunately, many people aren’t aware of the dangers of brushes with wild animals. Some of the most commonly encountered wildlife in the Columbus, Ohio area are bats, birds, moles, raccoons, rodents (such as mice or rats), skunks, and squirrels. There are plenty of other problem species, but these are among the most prevalent. If you encounter any of these animals on your property, it is important to have them removed as quickly as possible. Call Buckeye Wildlife Solutions at (844) 544-9453 for expert removal service.

Columbus, Ohio Ticks: A tick capable of spreading Lyme Disease in Columbus, OH

Columbus, Ohio Ticks: A tick capable of spreading Lyme Disease in Columbus, OH

The main concern after coming into contact with wild animals is your safety. Many species carry diseases that can harm humans. These diseases are transmitted either physically through things like scratches and bites or through another medium such as food, water, or air. If you have recently come in close contact with Columbus wildlife, strongly consider seeking medical attention. Also, make sure to educate yourself about the animal you encountered and the specific risks involved.

How People Come In Contact With Wild Animals and What to Do

Any type of contact with wildlife in or around Columbus, OH can expose you to a number of health risks like disease, infection, and more. If you have recently come into contact with wild animals such as bats, birds, moles, raccoons, rodents (such as mice or rats), skunks, or squirrels, make sure to take appropriate action. Seek medical attention if necessary and make sure to educate yourself about the animal in question. For more information on disease transmission between animals and humans, read the CDC’s page on Zoonotic Diseases. If wildlife issues arise on your property, call Columbus’s Buckeye Wildlife Solutions at (844) 544-9453 for professional removal service.

Contact is classified into four categories: direct, indirect, vector-borne, and foodborne.

Direct Contact

Direct forms of wildlife contact include the following:

  • Scratches
  • Punctures
  • Stings
  • Contact with urine, feces, saliva, or other bodily fluids/secretions
  • Other manners of physical contact

Indirect Contact

Indirect forms of contact can be just as dangerous. Below are some examples of indirect contact:

  • Exposure to bacteria in aquarium tank water, chicken coops, plants, and soil
  • Breathing contaminated air
  • General contact with areas where animals live

Vector-borne

Vector-borne illness is contracted by an insect bite. Fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks are the most common offenders in Columbus, Ohio. Millions of Americans are subjected to insect bites each year. Although most are not dangerous, some insects are known to carry diseases like West Nile Virus that can seriously threaten humans.

Foodborne

Foodborne illness is a common issue, with just under 20% of Americans experiencing some sort of food-related sickness each year. This is often a product of consuming raw or undercooked meat, eggs, fish, fruits, or vegetables contaminated with feces from an infected animal.

Most Notable Diseases Transmitted by Wildlife in Columbus, Ohio

Disease transmission is an unfortunate outcome that may present when exposed to wildlife. Many Columbus, OH species carry diseases that pose significant health risks to humans. Below, we will highlight some major diseases that can be transmitted by wild animals. These are a combination of the most prevalent and the most serious diseases. Even if you never contract one, it is helpful to be prepared with the knowledge to handle these diseases if the situation presents. If you believe you have contracted a disease from a wild animal, please seek medical attention immediately.

Histoplasmosis

Histoplasmosis is an infection which is usually contracted by breathing in fungal spores from bat or bird feces. The spores can also be found in contaminated soil which puts gardeners, farmers, and landscapers at increased risk. The disease is most commonly found in the Ohio River Valley area, but still poses a threat to those in Columbus and surrounding areas. If you have problem bats or birds on your property, call Buckeye WIldlife Solutions for high-quality removal service at (844) 544-9453.

Symptoms

Histoplasmosis ranges in severity from unnoticeable to life-threatening. It is somewhat dependent on the individual’s age, immune system, and physical fitness. Some of the more common symptoms are as follows:

  • Chills
  • Chest pain
  • Dry Cough
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle Aches

These symptoms are common in many diseases, so do not panic if you feel one or more. Do, however, be diligent in recognizing abnormal symptoms and get medical help if necessary.

More serious cases will affect nearly every body part including your nervous system and will definitely be noticeable. If serious issues present, get immediate medical attention.

Prevention

There are many things you can do to avoid contracting histoplasmosis such as:

  • Avoid direct exposure to fungal spores by limiting contact with birds
  • Before working with soil, spray it with water to prevent the spores from becoming airborne
  • Use a proper face mask when you think you may come in contact with fungal spores

Raccoon roundworm

Raccoon roundworm is not commonly transmitted to humans but can be incredibly dangerous if it does. Raccoons make up the overwhelming majority of hosts for this parasite. In fact, about 70% of raccoons carry it. Humans can contract the disease by ingesting feces or contaminated soil, which means the most at-risk demographic are young children who don’t know better than to eat the soil.

If you are concerned that your child may have the parasite, please visit an emergency room near you. Understand, however, that there is no real test to diagnose this disease. Diagnosis depends on the ability to piece together the symptoms and their cause, so be thorough in your description of the events that led to contraction. If you have raccoons on your property, it is in your best interest to remove them immediately. Call Columbus, Ohio’s Buckeye WIldlife Solutions for expert raccoon removal service at (844) 544-9453.

Columbus, Ohio Raccoons: A raccoon laying on a rock in Columbus, OH

Columbus, Ohio Raccoons: A raccoon laying on a rock in Columbus, OH

Symptoms

Prognosis for those with raccoon roundworm is generally bad. Many cases end with severe, permanent neurological damage, as the parasite is prone to damage brain tissue. Larvae migrate towards the eyes and brain in nearly all cases, which can leave the infected human visually impaired as well as brain-damaged.

Prevention

The single best way to prevent this parasite is to keep raccoons away and avoid anything that may be contaminated with raccoon feces. If you believe you have accidentally come into contact with raccoon feces, wash thoroughly and monitor for potential symptoms of the raccoon roundworm parasite.

Hantavirus and Hemorrhagic Fever

Rodents such as mice or rats are the biggest carriers of hantavirus. Four types of American rodent can carry the virus: cotton rats, deer mice, rice rats, and white-footed mice. Hantavirus is usually contracted through contact with rodent urine or feces. In many cases, the disease is fatal, so it is essential that you manage any rodent issues present on your property. If you have mice or rats in your home, call Columbus, OH’s Buckeye WIldlife Solutions for complete rodent removal service at (844) 544-9453.

Symptoms

There are different kinds of illness contractable by hantaviruses. Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) is a group of similar illnesses caused by many types of hantavirus. Depending on the amount of the virus present, symptoms can differ. It often results in intense headaches, abdominal pain, nausea, blurred vision, and other serious problems. For more information, visit Wikipedia’s page on HFRS.

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a severe form of hantavirus carried by deer mice. Most common in the beginning stages of HPS are flu-like symptoms such as muscle pains, fever, cough, headache, and tiredness. Onset shortness of breath and quick-developing pulmonary edema usually follows initial flu-like symptoms. The fatality rate in humans is about 36%.

Prevention

The only proven way to protect against hantavirus is to avoid contact with rodents. If you have rodents such as mice or rats in your home, call Buckeye Wildlife Solutions at (844) 544-9453 for expert removal service.

West Nile virus

West Nile virus is usually spread by mosquitoes whose bites can transmit the virus to humans. Most people present with no symptoms but, in rare cases, the virus may cause serious problems. There is no way to cure the disease, so it is best to avoid areas where contraction is most plausible. If mosquitoes invade your property, call Columbus’s Buckeye Wildlife Solutions at (844) 544-9453 for expert removal service.

Symptoms

As mentioned above, most people (3 in 4) present with few to no symptoms and never have complications. 1 in 5 will experience fever, headache, vomiting, or rashes. In very rare cases (less than 1%), people may experience encephalitis, meningitis, seizures, or neck stiffness. Recovery in these cases may take weeks to months.

Prevention

There is no cure for West Nile virus, so your best option is to avoid contact with mosquitoes in problematic areas. Use repellents when possible and cover your skin where mosquitoes could bite you. Seek medical attention if you feel you have some of the more serious symptoms listed above.

Salmonella

Salmonella is a fairly common disease which is contracted through contaminated food and water. Children and those with compromised immune systems are most likely to get salmonella. Cases range from mild to severe. The average case usually lasts no longer than a couple weeks.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of salmonella are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chills
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea

If diarrhea gets worse, it may be necessary to get medical help. Most cases can be treated by simply resting and drinking plenty of water.

Prevention

The best advice for avoiding salmonella is to be careful about what you eat and what food you touch. Cook your food sufficiently to eliminate bacteria. Wash your hands after coming in contact with raw meat or poultry. If you are worried about any symptoms you are showing, please contact a medical professional.

Zika

Zika is the virus which took the world by storm during the 2016 Summer Olympics. Although most commonly reported in Africa and South America, it is possible to contract Zika in Columbus, OH. mosquito bites are the primary method of contracting the Zika virus. Pregnant women should be especially careful about mosquito exposure, as fetuses can get the Zika virus from their mother.

Symptoms

Most people show mild symptoms if any. In the majority of cases, Zika is not an issue and will never cause problems. In rare cases, the virus will lead to a paralyzing autoimmune disease. Also, pregnant women can pass the virus along to their fetuses which can cause birth defects.

Prevention

The best way to prevent the Zika virus is to avoid contact with mosquitoes. Use repellent and wear enough clothing to cover your skin when you can. Zika can also be passed on sexually, so use condoms to avoid spreading or contracting the virus. There is no known medicine for treating the Zika virus.

Columbus, Ohio Mosquitoes: A mosquito feeds on the blood of a human host in Columbus, OH

Columbus, Ohio Mosquitoes: A mosquito feeds on the blood of a human host in Columbus, OH

Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis, or Weil’s disease, is a bacteria that lives in the urine of affected animals. Contracting the disease is extremely unlikely, but may occur if you consume contaminated food or water, touch contaminated soil, or accidentally come in contact with animal urine. It is not particularly dangerous but you can avoid leptospirosis through responsible hygiene practice.

Symptoms

It is easy to mistake symptoms of leptospirosis for other common diseases. Some typical symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Jaundice
  • Muscle Aches
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Diarrhea

Most symptoms disappear within a few weeks with proper treatment. Otherwise, it may take several months to fully recover.

Prevention

The best way to prevent against leptospirosis is to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands regularly and shower or bathe frequently. Avoid any areas contaminated with animal urine. Wash immediately if you accidentally come into contact with urine. Do not swim in water that is contaminated with animal urine. If you notice problem enimals on your property, call Columbus, Ohio’s Buckeye Wildlife Solutions at (844) 544-9453 for top-quality removal service.

Giardia

Giardia is a microscopic parasite present in food, water, or soil contaminated with feces. It is most commonly ingested through drinking contaminated water and is responsible for causing diarrhea-like symptoms.

Symptoms

Diarrhea, gas, cramps and other similar symptoms are most common with Giardia. Sometimes, no symptoms present at all, and sometimes they can be more serious. Most people stop experiencing symptoms after 1 or 2 weeks.

Prevention

Giardia can survive outside of a host for long periods of time. Therefore, it is important to be diligent in keeping a clean living area. Avoid drinking water you suspect is contaminated. Clean up after your pets and practice good hygiene. Otherwise, make sure to monitor any symptoms you experience and report to a doctor if they worsen.

Lyme Disease

The common tick is responsible for spreading Lyme Disease. Ticks are a type of ectoparasites, meaning they live on the skin (surface) as opposed to within the body. Common ectoparasites are lice, mites, ticks, and fleas. Most instances of the disease are treatable with antibiotics, but make sure to be diligent. If you notice any tick bites or signs of ticks on your skin, consult a doctor as soon as possible.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of lyme disease are as follows:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle or Joint Pain
  • Rash

If left untreated, these symptoms may become more severe and lead to muscle and nerve damage as well as other life-threatening issues like heart palpitations and brain inflammation.

Prevention

There are many things you can do to minimize contact with ticks and minimize bite probability:

  • Avoid wooded areas and tall grass
  • Walk in the center of any trails
  • Use repellant (this tool from the EPA will help you select the right one!)
  • Bathe or shower as soon as you return home from an outdoor excursion
  • Wash your clothes regularly
  • Check your pets if you suspect them of having ticks

If you notice ticks on you, your pet, or in your household, call Columbus’s Buckeye Wildlife Solutions at (844) 544-9453 for professional removal service.

Conclusion

Understand that the chance of contracting many of these diseases is small, but remember to be careful at all times. The best way to prevent most wildlife-related diseases is to avoid contact with animals when possible as well as habitats where they usually live as they may expose you to urine, feces, or other forms of contamination. Practice good hygiene and wash your clothes regularly. If you have problem animals on your property, get rid of them as quickly as possible by calling Columbus, OH’s Buckeye Wildlife Solutions at (844) 544-9453.