It is that time of the year when pest control becomes increasingly important. Insects and vermin seek out the warm humidity of our homes, bringing along with them a variety of problems, ranging from damaging our belongings, to polluting air quality and spreading disease. Thankfully, much can be done to ensure that our homes, accommodation establishments, restaurants and food processing plants are sanitary, as unsanitary conditions provide the ideal habitat for pests in search of water, food and nesting sites, according to a recent article in the Food Magazine.
The only thing worse than mice or cockroaches feeding on breadcrumbs in your kitchen is finding them munching on invaluable paintings and artifacts in your museum or library. Insect pests are responsible for significant damage to museum objects, historic books, and in buildings of historical or architectural importance. Various wood-boring beetles, various moths, and booklice can destroy materials, objects, and building parts. Termites, cockroaches, and other insect pests are also common in museums and libraries, and their presence results in even greater damage of wood and paper materials.
Insects do not infest all items in equal ways, however. At the highest risk of infestation are natural history collections, dried insect collections, dry plant materials, stuffed animals, items containing fur, and keratin or chitin-based materials. Usually, items made from these vulnerable materials are stored together in dark areas, making the spread of infestation easier and more successful.
In the past, pest control in such collection-holding institutions involved regular applications of insecticides to the infested areas and to the objects themselves.
Rodent control is often an unsettling subject – no one feels comfortable in the presence of unwelcome pests. In the case of restaurants and food processing businesses, however, the problem of rodent control goes beyond personal comfort and into significant public image and financial loss. A restaurant’s success is determined by its public reputation, and nothing destroys a hard-earned reputation faster than a rodent scurrying across a room where food is served and/or prepared.
Rodents, along with flies and cockroaches, are the bane of any food service operation, as they are directly and/or indirectly the cause of:
Tough public health guidelines against rodents exist for good reason, and the reason is that rodents carry numerous pathogens and bacteria that cause life-threatening diseases in humans and other animals.
In Canada, more than half of all children ages 6 months to 5 years spend the largest part of their waking hours in early learning and child care facilities. During those hours, an important part of their time is spent on or near the ground, floor, and other areas where potentially harmful pests and pesticide residues may be present.
Because of their lower body weight, stage of development, and rapid metabolism, infants and toddlers are much more susceptible to pesticide poisoning than adults, according to The Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and the Environment (CPCHE).
They eat, drink, and breathe more than adults do, so they not only come into closer contact with more indoor pollutants, but are also more sensitive to them (since they will get a bigger dose per body size compared to adults). Young children also explore the world by touching objects and putting their hands in their mouths, which increases the risk of exposure to pesticides and cleaning products.
Aside from areas where medical procedures are performed, hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities are made up of an extended network of non-medical office and service buildings. Kitchens in hospitals are very much alike large commercial kitchens in restaurants, operating similar equipment and being governed by much of the same safety guidelines. In terms of design and organization, patient rooms are no different than hotel rooms, while the vending machines, lobbies, locker rooms, and gift shops found in hospitals can also be found in several other types of buildings.
And just like restaurants, hotels, and other commercial facilities, healthcare facilities provide all the necessary conditions – food, water, and shelter – for insects and rodents to thrive.
Environmental factors that facilitate the entry of pests in healthcare facilities include:
Environmental factors facilitating the survival of pests include:
Environmental factors that encumber the eradication of pests include:
While there may be a wide range of pests, rodents, and arthropods commonly associated with the health care industry, there are no unique hospital pests.