Can pests spread coronavirus? - PEST UK

Providing pest control services in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, London, Middlesex, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, West Midlands, West Sussex, Wiltshire. Est. 1985.

Can pests spread coronavirus?

In Pests

Can pests spread coronavirus?

The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected many lives in recent months. We have seen a rise in cases in the UK and over 10,000 deaths worldwide.

In recent weeks, efforts to stop the spread have caused a great disturbance to the UK. For instance, the disruption of transport, cancellation of sports and closure of schools and commercial premises. The impact of all of this has had and will continue to have a devastating impact on the economy, hitting smaller businesses like PEST UK particularly hard. 

At PEST UK we understand some of the concerns you may be having regarding the ongoing pandemic. The uncertainty around its surfacing and rapid spread across the globe has provoked many questions. Unfortunately, many of these questions may remain unanswered because this strain of coronavirus is so new. 


Do pests carry coronavirus?

One of the more common questions is: can pests spread coronavirus? The short answer at the moment is we don’t know. 

However, evidence suggests that the virus originated from mammals. The “wet market” in Wuhan was initially thought by the Chinese government to be the starting point of the outbreak. The market was known to sell live animals. Among them, some of our more commonly known pests of today, including rats, squirrels, and foxes.

Another theory is that the virus originated in Chinese horseshoe bats due to the similarity of the structure of the virus to that of COVID-19.

More recently, the virus has been attributed to pangolins, scaly anteaters that inhabit Africa and Asia, known to contain a virus similar to COVID-19. Therefore it is possible that the illegal poaching of this endangered mammal for medicine and meat has allowed the virus to spread from pangolins to humans.

In addition, one possibility is that there was an intermediary non-human host between the virus which spread from bats and/or pangolins to humans.

The zoonotic nature of the virus (the fact that it can be transmitted from animals to people) suggests that some pests could be hosts of coronavirus. Previous outbreaks of similar strains of the virus (SARS and MERS) have been linked to exposure to animals.


Should I be worried about rats?

Rats, in particular, are a likely carrier. Rats have been strongly linked with spread of zoonotic diseases such as Leptospirosis (Weil’s disease). Historically, rats have also been known to carry strains of coronavirus, including sialodacryoadentis which has a similar structure to COVID-19. 

There is a possibility that rats could be intermediary hosts of the new virus. If you suspect a rodent infestation you should call a pest control company immediately. While we don’t know for certain at this time whether pests can carry the virus, it is important to deal with infestations as soon as feasibly possible, as pests do carry other diseases that can pass onto humans.


If you’re worried about the cleanliness of your home or commercial property during the ongoing pandemic we do offer a fogging disinfectant service which provides a fast, deep clean of your entire premises.


This article is not a replacement for the guidance given by medical professionals nor official advice provided by the UK Government on COVID-19. Find more information on Coronavirus at the following sources:


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