The CDC Just Issued Its Weirdest New Warning Yet

As if we didn't have enough to worry about, now we're on the lookout for "aggressive rodent behavior."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been routinely offering helpful warnings tied to our collective safety throughout the coronavirus pandemic. But now, the nation's leading public health institute has issued its weirdest heads-up yet and it's not about the virus at all. In fact, it's all about rats.

As restaurants and businesses remain closed in America's most populated urban areas, rats are growing hungrier and more desperate in their attempts to survive, according to the CDC.

"Some jurisdictions have reported an increase in rodent activity as rodents search for new sources of food," the CDC warns. "Environmental health and rodent control programs may see an increase in service requests related to rodents and reports of unusual or aggressive rodent behavior."

And that "aggressive rodent behavior" reportedly includes embracing cannibalism. "The rats are not becoming aggressive toward people, but toward each other," urban rodentologist Bobby Corrigan, PhD, told The New York Times. "They're simply turning on each other."

The Times elaborated:

In New Orleans, hordes of rats took over the streets after people emptied out. Hundreds of thousands of rats in Chicago have started boldly searching for food, traveling farther and during the daytime. Some have even moved into car engines. Dr. Corrigan said pest control professionals in the city have sent him photos of cannibalization and slaughter.

While it's normal for natural disasters such as hurricanes to throw rat populations into disarray, the pattern usually dictates that their populations initially decline before restoring to full force "as commercial activity returns to normal," according to the CDC.

In the case of a global pandemic that has required a lockdown, we're obviously dealing with a different sort of disaster—and pest control workers have noted that an increasing number of rodents are behaving differently than ever before. They're beginning to rear their heads during daytime hours and they're even entering homes.

"Suburban neighborhoods, often adjacent to shopping centers and other businesses, are also seeing new infestations," The Times reports.

Luckily, pest control experts say that there are no signs that rats carry COVID-19. But there are still health concerns like salmonella infection, which manifests itself in diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and abdominal cramps, and Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV), a rodent-borne viral disease transmitted through a rat's urine and saliva.

If you fear you have rats in your home, know that the tell-tale signs include droppings, traces of dirt, and "grease marks along floorboards and walls." Your best precautionary measures, according to the CDC, 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 [your] yards." And for more tips on staying safe and healthy right now, make sure you're fully up to speed on The Worst Coronavirus "Super Spreaders" You Need to Know.

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