Pests won’t stop for Coronavirus, so what happens next?
The Pest Explosion during & after the Coronavirus Crisis
An absence of pest control during the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic could result in catastrophic consequences. So why isn’t our government considering pest control an essential service?
Rats & Mice
Every day pest control companies throughout the UK control several thousands of rodents every week. As a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and subsequent quarantine, many pest control companies, including nearly all of the local authorities, have closed or scaled back operations.
While in the short-term this may seem to be a pragmatic solution considering the reduced workload and the closing of many commercial premises, in the long term this will have disastrous effects.
Rats and mice breed every 4 weeks and reproduce at just 6-8 weeks old. This means the rodent population could increase by millions in a short space of time. This, coupled with a build-up of refuse, empty or partially occupied commercial premises, could have an alarming impact.
Why are rodents such a problem?
Rodents are destructive. They cause damage by gnawing which increases fire risk and electrical failures from chewed cables, floods from damaged water mains and other structural harm. However, the most important and worrying implication will be to the public’s health – rodents spread disease.
The health risks associated with rodent infestations are a cause for concern. Any infestation can lead to contamination of surfaces and food which heightens the chance of spreading disease. Rats are known to spread Leptospirosis, commonly known as Weil’s Disease. Weil’s Disease is a zoonotic disease (like coronavirus) which means it can be transmitted from animals to humans. The increased population of rats, which we are likely to see as a result of reduced pest services, could result in the spread of Weil’s Disease in humans.
The NHS is already struggling to cope with the current pandemic. Further strains of an additional disease outbreak could be life-threatening.
Can rats spread coronavirus?
It is still unconfirmed if rodents such as rats can spread the COVID-19 coronavirus. Read our blog post on if pests can spread disease here.
Many students and people living or working away from home have now returned to their family residence during the coronavirus quarantine period. It’s not uncommon that the movement of people can lead to the transportation of pests such as bed bugs and cockroaches. This, coupled with crowded living conditions and houses being occupied most of the day, makes an ideal breeding ground for these types of pests. The reduction of pest control availability will result in a pest explosion.
German Cockroaches are the most common cockroach in the UK. In correct conditions, they can breed at a rapid rate. A female cockroach produces 4-8 egg capsules a month. Each capsule contains about 30 eggs, which the female carries with her until hatching, which then takes 2-4 weeks. Efforts are made to conceal the capsule near a food source, where the nymphs will hatch and pass through 5-7 moults before reaching maturity. At 25°C maturity is reached in 3.5 months, but this time is subject to great variation depending on the temperature. The adult’s lifespan is approximately 8.5 months but can live even longer in colder temperatures.
Bed Bugs are relatively slow breeders compared with cockroaches but breed and develop faster when the conditions are right (such as a warm and crowded house). The female lays her eggs in batches of up to 50. The eggs are white and deposited on various surfaces with a thin glue. Bed bug eggs take approximately 10 days to hatch and can mature into adults in as little as one month. The females of the recently matured bed bugs are then ready to start laying eggs, creating an uncontrollable infestation if left untreated.
Bed bugs are one of the more troublesome pests to get rid of so not attending an infestation with exasperate the problem.
With a lack of pest control presence, the UK can expect an unmanageable surge of pests like these.
Pest Control is an Essential Service
It is for these reasons that pest control must be considered an essential service. The BPCA has asked the government for this. Unfortunately, to date, it is clear that the government don’t really understand how vital pest control is for the well being of the people of the UK.
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:
- UK Government Information on Covid-19
- Latest News from Public Health England
- Guidance for Employers
- BPCA Guidance for Pest Management
- NHS Advice
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