Unwelcome house guests bring unwanted diseases. Learn more about the health risks that pests pose.
by Jason Johnson
Given that I hate pests so much, one would think that I would be excited for winter. This unfortunately, is not the case as winter brings along with it something else that I dread all year – the flu and other illnesses. I consider myself a ball of energy and anything that threatens my energy levels has to be seen as an enemy.
Winter has barely started and I have been hit by German measles, the flu as well as bronchitis, so imagine my enthusiasm toward the rest of this winter. While I wash my hands religiously and sanitise my keyboard and phone every other day, sometimes getting the sniffles is unavoidable.
We are exposed to bacteria and viruses throughout the day. Whether or not it’s a stray sneeze from a colleague or eating contaminated food, the world is a filthy place. This has got me thinking about the role that pests play in our general health with the knowledge that most pests carry bacteria that can cause serious illnesses.
See below a list of common diseases carried by pests that could be living with you – right under your roof!
Rabies is probably the most common disease carried by pests. With pigeons, rodents as well as bats being able to transmit the disease, it’s no wonder that 55 000 people are currently suffering from this disease. Not only is rabies one of the most widespread diseases carried by pests today, it is also one of the most expensive diseases costing governments R256 billion worldwide every year. This amount could be reduced drastically or completely eliminated by vaccination for as little as R64 billion.
If you thought that you could only get salmonella by eating your chicken medium rare, think again. Rodents are carriers of the salmonella virus and this is spread to humans via frequent contact with rodent droppings. Having had several run-ins with rodents in my own home, I have now taken steps to improve rodent control. The reason for this is that salmonella can be life-threatening to humans and can lead to gastroenteritis. I have always believed that rodents are from the devil and now that I know they can kill me, I know that I was right!
E. coli is one of the most common causes of food related diseases in the world. Humans contract the disease by eating under-cooked meat as well as drinking water without filtering it. The bacterium is mostly concentrated in the stomachs and intestines of cattle. However, humans are typically exposed to E.coli through coming into contact with surfaces or foods that the common house fly has contaminated in the first place.
While asthma is not actually carried by pests, there are several pests that can trigger attacks in sufferers. Cockroaches are especially dangerous to people who live with asthma. The reason for this is that allergens found in their saliva and faeces have been known to cause asthma attacks. Children and the elderly who live with this condition are especially vulnerable.
Just another slice of heaven dished out by rodents, the bubonic plague is one of the deadliest plagues to ever hit the human race. Aptly named the Black Death, the bubonic plague wiped out two thirds of the entire population in the 14th century. The disease was carried by fleas from infected rats and mice and was also perpetuated by unhygienic conditions which allowed the rodents to thrive. There has been a resurgence of the plague with 21 people dying from the disease as recently as December 2013. Still think that mouse running around your house is cute?
Tips to prevent pests in your home:
While many of the pests featured in the above list are unavoidable, there things you can do to minimise your risk of contracting any of these diseases. Building a habit of cleanliness, such as performing basic housekeeping duties some of which include not letting dishes pile up, putting away food in containers, wiping away any spillages and regularly taking out the trash will go a long way in protecting you from the diseases that pest can carry into your home.
The risks of unwanted furry visitors are especially high during winter time, as rodents seek harbourages in cosy areas. One can proof your home against the entry of pests such as ensuring any vents, ducts or drains are sealed or covered with mesh, caulking windows and door frames and attaching bristles to doors that lead to the inside of your home. See some more tips on how to get rid of rats or how to control cockroaches.
One can also rest assured of any pest activity by controlling the risk and ensuring regular pest control services are performed by the experts that offers your family and pets the best in safety. Rentokil’s new pest disinfection service will also go a long way in ensuring that the waste that pests leave behind are taken care of, by using a spray or mist (food safe and non-corrosive) that eliminates 99.9% of pathogens to protect your family against the spread of illnesses and reduce contamination.