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CDC warns of ‘unusual or aggressive’ rodents hunting for food amid COVID-19

A gray rat
A gray rat (Shutterstock)

DETROIT – With most restaurants across the U.S. either closed or only partially open, rodents are finding it harder to eat.

The CDC issued a warning over the weekend about rodents exhibiting “unusual or aggressive” behavior as the hunt for food becomes more difficult.

“Jurisdictions have closed or limited service at restaurants and other commercial establishments to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Rodents rely on the food and waste generated by these establishments. Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents, especially in dense commercial areas. Some jurisdictions have reported an increase in rodent activity as rodents search for new sources of food. Environmental health and rodent control programs may see an increase in service requests related to rodents and reports of unusual or aggressive rodent behavior,” the CDC said.

Worldwide, rats and mice spread over 35 diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through handling of rodents, through contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, or through rodent bites. Diseases carried by rodents can also be spread to humans indirectly, through ticks, mites or fleas that have fed on an infected rodent.

The CDC suggests some simple tactics to help keep rodents away.

“Preventive actions include sealing up access into homes and businesses, removing debris and heavy vegetation, keeping garbage in tightly covered bins, and removing pet and bird food from their yards.”


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